Behind Their Backs

In his latest book, Whisper, Mark Batterson tells how several years ago he was challenged to make sure anything he said about someone else behind their back was positive. He wrote that he likes to “brag behind their back.”

I like that! What if we took time today to talk about one friend to another friend… and what if we bragged on that person without them knowing we did it? What if we made a habit of bragging behind people’s back? What if Word started getting back to people that we said something about them… something positive, encouraging, complimentary… behind their backs?

There’s something great about knowing that someone else is saying something nice about you when you’re not around. If they’ll do that, they must surely mean it. If they’ll say it when there is no expectation of anything in return, it must really come from the heart.

Wouldn’t it be terrific for someone else to hear tomorrow that you said something nice about them behind their back today? What if bosses started doing this about their employees… and vice versa? What if Republicans started doing this about Democrats… and vice versa? What if one business owner would do this about their rival… and vice versa?

I don’t know, maybe some of that is too much to hope for. But I don’t think it’s too much for you and me to begin making a difference in the lives of those around us by making sure that everything we say about them is good and helpful… that it encourages them if they hear we said it. I believe husbands can start doing this about their wives… and vice versa. Parents can start doing this about their kids… and vice versa.

Let’s let these encouraging words trickle back to people we care about and brighten their day. I for one want to find the biggest gossip I know and start spreading some good news through them about my friends! If you’re with me, use #goodgossip when sharing this post with others.

Invitation To Greatness

In April 1803, Thomas Jefferson (via his ambassadors) inked a deal with Napoleon Bonaparte called the Louisiana Purchase in which the U. S. effectively paid France $15 million in exchange for 828,000 square miles of land… approximately doubling the size of the United States. President Jefferson announced the deal to the people of the United States in July 1803, and on October 21st of that year, Congress acted to set up governance. Ten days later, they gave the President the approval to explore the land and map it out since much of it was unknown to our country. President Jefferson then selected Meriwether Lewis to lead the exploration.

What Lewis did next is what makes him a great leader to me. He chose William Clark to explore with him. In that single act, he secured that Clark’s name would always be mentioned along with his when it came to the historic discovery of this massive portion of our nation.

I love this, and here’s why…

1. Lewis didn’t hog the glory. He didn’t feel like, since the President asked him to tackle this ginormous project with historic ramifications, he should get all the credit. To this day, we always mention Clark with Lewis. It’s never just the Lewis expedition… It’s the Lewis and Clark expedition. Their names have become synonymous with blazing trails and showing others the way… with boldness and daring… with the heart of the explorer. And their names are always mentioned… together.

Together is better. It’s always better. Together says a leader is not arrogant. Together says a leader values others more than themselves. Together matters, and it makes a difference.

2. Lewis knew he couldn’t & didn’t want to do it alone. He admitted he needed and wanted help. By inviting Clark along, Lewis made it clear that he did not have all the answers… all the skills… all the abilities. And he wanted to share the experience with someone else. I imagine that he imagined the two of them… if they could survive it… sitting in rockers on a porch one day on a piece of land in that Louisiana Purchase, telling stories to their grandchildren and people who stopped by to meet the famous explorers, of their shared experiences with two different points of view… one filling in the blanks in the other’s side of the story.

Great leaders get that they cannot do everything. Nor do they wish to go it alone. They want to share the thrill of challenges and cheers with someone else who can appreciate it… and help them be able to survive it all.

Listen, here’s the thing…

You are going to do something great in this life. Your moment is going to come when what you have been designed for… what you have been destined for… is set right in front of you. When it does, this is what I want to know…

Who is your Clark? Who will you elevate? Who will you bring along with you to make history? Will it be your spouse or your kids? Will it be a best friend? Will it be your favorite co-worker?

Just tell me you have someone in mind… because then I will know that you are the leader I believe you are… one who gets that life’s great achievements are better when they are shared.

How Many Ways?

Today, I sold an older table saw that almost covered the cost of the new one I needed. Today, a refund check for an unknown overpayment on insurance came in the mail. Today, items we wanted to buy family members for Christmas we’re on clearance when PR31 went to shop. Today, people ordered crafts we sell on the side. Today, someone provided an opportunity for me to work in my vocation.

God always comes through. Always.

Scripture doesn’t say HOW God will supply all our needs. It just says that He will. It doesn’t WHEN He will supply our need. It just says that He will.

There is no formula… no metric… no systematic routine God has to abide by, but there is a principle He has chosen to operate within. Put Him first. Honor Him, His Kingdom, His will. Trust Him with what you’ve got, and He will come through for you. He will always supply what is needed for His children. This is not about putting a buck in the offering plate on Sunday, but rather putting your life in His hands each day, and believing that He will take care of what you need.

I only use today as an example. Our lives are replete with examples like today… but different… in which God supplied all of our needs. He didn’t do this because we are any more special to Him than anyone else. He did it for us, and He will do it for you, too.

Whether your need is healing, provision, favor with a boss, a restored relationship with a family member, or any other of a host of needs, my God will supply all of your needs generously! Seek Him and His will first, and all these things will be added to your life.

2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad

Our pastor shared a great illustration at church yesterday that I think applies to everyone… even those who don’t claim to know Christ and follow Him.  In fact, a lady who reads the blog regularly leaned over and said, “Sounds like that could be your next blog post.”  So, I’m sharing it with you today…

Our youth pastor, Blake, has really gotten into disc golf.  Like really gotten into it.  Like is playing tournaments all over the place… and winning.  I was talking with his parents after the service about it, and it’s a real possibility that, if he keeps going at this rate, he could start earning money playing.  Suffice it to say, he is pretty good… at least better than me. 😉

Pastor had Blake set up a goal… or a hole… or a net… or a cage… or whatever they call those things you throw the frisbee… excuse me, disc… into.  Then he had Blake take three throws at the cage.  Blake made the first two, but then missed the last one.  (We all know he missed on purpose.)

Pastor began to knock Blake for missing one throw.  He went on and on about it.  “Blake, I can’t believe you missed that last toss.  I thought you were good at this.  What’s wrong with you?” Then he pointed out that he could have spoken positive, encouraging words instead like, “Way to go, Blake!  2 out of 3 ain’t bad.  I’m so proud of you!”

We have a choice, you see, when it comes to how we are going to speak to people in our lives… our family, our friends, our co-workers, others we come across in the daily course of life.  We can encourage… or we can criticize.  It’s so unattractive when we criticize.  It doesn’t help the other person… or us… or anyone else listening.

But we have the power to lift people up each day.  In The Message paraphrase of Scripture, the Apostle Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:15, “Look for the best in others, and always do your best to bring it out.”  We can do that today.  We can do it tomorrow.  We can do it every day.
Let’s choose today to find something good and positive in every person and in every situation.  And then let’s choose to talk about those good things instead of the other stuff.  It doesn’t mean we’re not aware of the other stuff.  It just means we choose not to focus on it.

And let’s face it… 2 out of 3 really ain’t too bad after all!

The Making of a Marriage… Or Any Other Great Relationship- Part 3

I was in my last year of college, and I was talking with one of my professors about what my life might look like…my future… marriage… you know, just light casual conversation.  And she gave me some incredible advice that served me well.  That stately little powerhouse of a lady told me to make sure I married a young lady who was my equal because we were going to be partners in marriage.

She went to say that I should choose someone who was strong enough to challenge me in all areas of my life… because that would push me to always be moving forward in order to be the leader in our family.  She went on to clarify that by saying I should be the leader did not infer that I would better than my wife or superior… just fulfilling my role and responsibility.

She talked about the fact that in a marriage, both the husband and the wife are partners… equals.  But she went on to say that, although they are equals, each one has a unique, God-given, God-designed role.  My role was to lead and give her an example… to stay far enough ahead of her to challenge her to press forward for more, but by choosing a strong spouse that I would never be able to run off and leave her behind.  And yet not someone so strong that she could run off and leave me in the dust.

It boiled down to finding an equal, and respecting that she was my equal… my partner in this marriage.

That was amazing advice… and I am so glad I took it!  And boy did I evermore find an equal in PR31!  That girl keeps me on my toes.  Her generosity challenges my faith to believe I can be more generous.  Her prayer life challenges me to stay more in-tune with the Lord.  Her discipline and commitment level challenge me to  do more than not quit, but to take it up a notch.

Neither one of us has ever felt superior to the other that I can recall.  We are in this thing together… equals… partners.  We respect each other.  And we respond to each other as we fulfill our roles in the relationship.

To view someone as your equal is to show them the respect they deserve… and who wouldn’t want to spend their life in a loving relationship with someone who feels like that about them?

This works in other relationships also…

What if bosses treated their employees as equals instead of subordinates?  What if parents treated their kids with dignity and respect as equal members of the family?  What if students treated their teachers like real people just like themselves?

Respect.  Dignity.  Equals.  Partners.  In this together.  This is a great way to build a great relationship.

So why not give these three ideas a try over the next week… or month?  Why not learn to apologize well… communicate clearly… and give respect?  It could end up making a marriage… or any other relationship great!

I Like His Style

One of my favorite new TV shows kind of snuck up on me and made me like it.  It’s the story of a man who has a dream.  His dream is fleshed out in his 95-point plan to make his town of 456 residents… D’lo, Mississippi… the greatest town in America.

Small Town, Big Mayor features Mayor John Henry Berry’s pursuit of bringing his hometown back from near-extinction… and I don’t want to miss an episode.  My attraction to the show goes beyond the fact that it is pure… and clean… and humorous.  It’s the hero… the champion… the tip of the spear this guy has chosen to be for his town.

I love that he saw a need and decided something had to be done to fix what was wrong.  I love that he came up with a plan… probably more than what anyone else had done. I love that he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to set the example of what it’s going to take to make the dream become reality.  I love that he loves that town and those people enough to put up with some of their goofiness (and their ridiculous ideas of what they think a mayor ought to do for them) because he has the greater good in mind.  I love that he is willing to get out of his comfort zone to help others, and to ensure that his plan is working.

I guess I watch for a few laughs.  But more and more I watch for inspiration.  And I find myself wanting to live passionately like Mayor John Henry Berry.  It reminds me how Jesus loved and served people.

On tonight’s episode, he was teaching his daughter how to operate a track hoe to help him fix a busted water main.  She didn’t think she could do it.  In that moment of her insecurity in her own abilities, he told her that she COULD do it… that she had his blood flowing through her veins.

That’s when I was reminded of those times when I don’t think I can do something, and the Lord says gently to my heart and mind, “Sure you can, son, you’ve got my blood flowing through your veins.”

You may not find a humorous reality TV show inspiring… or motivational… or spiritual, but I do. At least this one.  And so I cheer for Mayor John Henry Berry.  I’m going to keep watching as he whittles away at those 95 points one at a time till his dream becomes reality.  Go get ’em, Mayor Berry!  You can do it!  And you’re inspiring us to believe that we can, too.

Twenty-Two

Twenty-two years ago today, I heard PR31 say to me, “I do!” And each day since then, I have watched her live out that commitment to love me.  She is my dream girl.  I would choose her every day of the week and twice on Sundays for the rest of my life.

Proverbs 31, from whence I drew her nickname, says that the virtuous woman’s husband blesses her publicly.  And so today’s post is that… my public proclamation that God blessed me with an amazing wife to share life with… and twenty-two years later, I’m so glad He did!

Angela  is my best friend, as well as being my sweetheart.  She listens to and lifts me.  She cheers me on and challenges me.  She nurtures and nudges me.

She is a woman of God.  Her passionate pursuit of Him makes me want to love both Him and her even more.

She makes me a better man… a better daddy… a better son… a better brother… a better friend… a better preacher.  I wouldn’t be the man I am without her in my life.

Her beauty is not only skin deep, though she is indeed gorgeous to look at. (She doesn’t even need makeup or fancy clothes to look pretty.) She is considerate of others’ feelings.  She gives generously… regularly. 

Her talents are off the charts to me.  She is one of those people who can make any recipe taste great… make any Pinterest craft more personal and special… make any trip more fun.

And yet for all her creativity, her practical skills are second to none.  She is the budget queen… homeschool teacher par excellence to our boys… and able to use the riding mower.

I’d keep going, but you probably can’t handle anymore.  And I could write ad nauseum about my love for her.  And when she reads this, she’ll think it was over the top… because she is also a woman of genuine humility.  See? I can’t help myself when it comes to her.

So, today, I celebrate twenty-two years of committed love between us… and commit again to the same for the rest of my life.  There’s no one else I’d rather take the journey of life with.

Thanks for loving me, Angela!  I love you like crazy… and I always will!!!

Bam! How ’bout That?

Here’s the thing you have to know… whether you believe it or not, there is a real devil and he is opposed to you simply because God values you and wants you in His forever family.  The devil and his imps are your enemies.

Here’s the other thing you need to know… They may be your enemies, but God is the Good Shepherd and your enemies are no match for Him.  It’s not even close… not even a competition.  The devil is not the equal opposite of God.  He is a defeated enemy gasping for his last breath.

So when David writes about God as the Ultimate Shepherd in Psalm 23, he writes from an experienced perspective.  David was a shepherd… a shepherd who provided for, pointed and protected his sheep.  He defeated lions and bears with sling, stick and bare hands. So he didn’t mind taking his sheep out each day and making sure they had a good meal right in the area where enemies lurked… because he knew how to handle those enemies.

And God knows perfectly well how to vanquish your enemies.  I like God’s moxey… His bravado… His flair for thumbing His nose in the face of the enemy.  David says that God basically sets the table for a feast, makes us the guest of honor and blesses us… right in front of our enemies. And they can’t do a single thing about it because He’s standing right there beside us, ever vigilant!

So eat in peace today.  Enjoy God’s blessings today.  Let God honor you today as you stay close to Him.  Don’t let the enemy give you an ounce of worry or concern.  God is showing His enemies that this is how He blesses those who belong to Him. They can skulk around the perimeter and watch you be blessed and honored, but they can’t keep it from happening.

JoAnna Gaines made a sign on one of the “Fixer Upper” TV shows which read, “It’s a good day for a good day.”  I would tweak it to say, “It’s a good day to belong to the Good Shepherd!”  Today, let Him prepare for you a feast, an honor and a blessing!

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