Considering Glory

Taking time to consider God's working

Negotiating in God’s Kingdom

Does anyone else love negotiating? No? No one else?

It’s pretty rare I meet someone my age who enjoys it as much as I do. The few times I’ve been able to buy or sell cars, the negotiation process has been my favorite.

My Papa taught me how to negotiate as a child and he would take to me to the flea market to practice. I became a ruthless negotiator! I think, more often than not, I ended up getting the deal because they didn’t expect the ten year old to make a counter offer.

In my sophomore year of college, I roomed with Ian Clardy. This dude is the man. Our vision was to have the coolest dorm room at Vanguard University. There’s no doubt in my mind we achieved it. I only slightly contributed; Ian had the TV, sound system, and sweet decorations. But, what’s the one thing that makes for a great hangout in a college dorm room? A huge couch!

Our search began to find the biggest and comfiest couch within our budget. We finally found a huge one we could squeeze into the room if we arranged our dorm perfectly. The listing price was $80, but I knew I could get it down. I was even looking forward to showing Ian my skills! Whatever price we landed on, we agreed to split the cost.

I needed Ian’s help to carry the couch, so we drove together to pick it up. As we drove over there, I told him I would take the lead. Just in case, I decided to give him the basics of negotiating so he wouldn’t hinder the process. There are two keys: emphasize your strong suits and downplay theirs. Here’s how it should work:

Downplay: It’s not bad, but there’s a lot of stains and the cushion is sunken in.

Emphasize: We have cash and can take it off your hands right now.

I wanted to make sure Ian wouldn’t comment on how great the couch is (even though we both loved it from the pictures on Craigslist). Ian confidently assured me he understood, and then I felt bad wondering if I was coming off as micromanaging.

We finally arrived. As soon as the woman let us in, Ian plopped down on the couch. He looked over with his eyes open the size of billiard balls and emphatically yelled “DUUUUUDE!!! WE NEED TO GET THIS COUCH! IT’S SOOOOOOO COMFORTABLE!!!!!”

*sigh*

Needless to say, we ended up paying full price. I still give Ian a hard time about it.

The truth is negotiating in the Kingdom of God is completely different. I could have told a story of my successful negotiating, but the couch story is unbeatable.

Today was Missions Sunday at church and the pastor asked everyone to pray and consider making a faith promise for the year. I have a huge heart for missions and love giving to support it, but this year was different. I took a ministry job that nearly cut my salary in half and with our baby at home, Kaleigh can’t work in the same capacity either. Our beautiful daughter Karis has Cerebral Palsy and needs more time for development therapy. We had incurred some debt on top of our student loans while living in California and we have been living on a rigorously tight budget to make up for it. Maybe this is TMI, but I hope it gives context.

So, when the pastor asked us to pray about how much to give, I told God I was going to take this year off until we could pay off our debt. After some work, God convinced me to give $10. It wasn’t in the budget, but I wanted my heart to be committed to missions. I kept my heart open and God wanted me to believe for a miracle. There was a time (when we didn’t have a child) where $100 would have been chump change, but this was heart wrenching for me. I finally settled it in my heart.

One thing Kaleigh and I practice is testing the Lord’s will by revealing what we hear God speaking at the same time. This is a great tool for accountability in generosity. Many times we have come up with amounts which were very close. This time when we shared, Kaleigh said $400! What! Craziness!

This is when my negotiating habits kicked in. I said, “How about we meet in the middle at $250?” I was immediately convicted. I asked her to hold on a minute instead so I could consider.

I asked God what He thought we should give and He said, “negotiating in my kingdom doesn’t work how you’re used to.”

As always, He was right. We ended up giving a faith promise of $400. After church, Kaleigh and I had a great discussion about negotiating God’s way. We’ve decided to approach giving as a married couple in this way for the rest of our lives. Whoever has the greater heart of generosity wins! This is very counterintuitive for me, but I believe God will provide in miraculous ways when we step out in faith. I’ve seen Him do it more times than I can count, and I’ve never seen Him not come through. Jehovah Jireh – my provider.

 

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Inside the Mind of an Extroverted Male

Based on no statistical data, it seems to me most blogs of this similar caliber are written by female introverts. Blogging can be a great tool for exploring feelings and I imagine it’s a great tool for introverted females. That being said, I’ve heard a lot about the internal struggles of those type of individuals. I thought it would be fun to give anyone interested a peek inside the mind of an extroverted male. 

Yesterday was my second week of work at a great, faith-based workplace. One of the members of my team had been traveling my first week, so I met him for the first time yesterday. To get to know him better, I started asking about his trip. 

Side note, I enjoy this step. Meeting new people is thrilling and exciting. I tend to fall into the “everyone’s a friend, I just haven’t met some of them yet” category. Back to the story. 

He started sharing about how he visited a university I was familiar with. It then came up that his son was playing on the football team there. 

This is where I get really interested. I love football. I played football for 10 years and during that time, I played every single position on offense and defense. Naturally, this a great conversation piece for me. It’s similar to your sing-songy friend who has a song for every occasion. If I’m talking to a quarterback, I share how I wasn’t that great, but I’m tied into a school record for handing off the ball to a running back who ran it 106 yards into the endzone. Or if it’s a lineman, I share how on a particular pass play, I was able to block two guys by pushing one into the other guy and making them both trip over. 

In this particular instance, he told me his son was playing corner. So I told him the story of when I was playing corner and the wide receiver kept trying to block me. He started to become a pest, so I just kept throwing him on the ground. Eventually, he became furious and yelled to ref, “he’s holding!” I busted up laughing because if you know enough about football, you know that rule only applies to offensive players. 

So, a little bit of breakdown for you. In general, men and women communicate differently when they tell stories. Of course these are generalities, but these ones are based on research. Men consistently tell stories where they are the hero of the story. Women, more often than not, tell stories where someone else is the hero. Now, for men, this can lead to vainglory and continual, annoying bragging. But on the other hand, it provides an opportunity for men to share their stories of heroics. This is a bonding experience for men. It doesn’t have to be about one-upmanship, it’s just a way to show you have similar interests. 

I hope you found this helpful and I’d love to hear how you relate or differ from the way I think!

MiniBlog: A God of Limits

Freedom is not found in the absence of limitations. Aristotle believed true freedom was found by imposing the correct limitations. Healthy relationships embrace limits.

Limitations (or boundaries) help us to tell others “no” so we can maintain our health and effectiveness. 

Why are limitations necessary?

Appropriate boundaries lead to success because God created them for our good. God gives us limits, not to restrict us from good, but to protect us from bad. He isn’t asking us to do what He won’t do Himself. Yes, God puts limits on himself too. Jesus used boundaries to protect his identity and fuel His ministry. He would climb a mountain to pray alone with His Father. Jesus was the one person who didn’t need to worry about losing Himself, yet he practiced setting boundaries. He understood: without a sense of separateness, you’ll lose your potency.

Boundaries helped Jesus stay on track – I think we should follow suit. 

The Priciest Christmas Treat

This is the first time in my life I’m not spending Christmas in Fremont, CA at my Papa and Yiayia’s (Greek for Grandma) house. We are all the way in Springfield, MO far away from any relatives. To boot, it’s cold, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be having a white Christmas either. Kaleigh and I are both positive people and know that we’ll make the best of our daughter Karis’ first Christmas, but it’s still difficult for each of us in our own way. 

My Mom is great. It wasn’t her decision to miss her first grandchild’s first Christmas, but she has been such a good sport about it. She knows my love language is food and there’s one special treat she makes once a year that makes the whole world disappear when you eat it. She got the recipe from her grandmother, and a few years ago she perfected it. Peanut. Butter. Balls. It’s chocolate and it’s peanut butter. It’s crunchy and it’s chewy. It’s delicious and it’s Christmas. For me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without them. (Maybe I should pray about that?)

They’re the priciest treat ever, and here’s why. My Mom mailed us a package with nine peanut butter balls and a check for $200. Now we really need the money after moving across the country, but I was still enormously more excited about the peanut butter balls. Do some quick math and that means they’re more than $22 a pop. To be honest if someone offered me one in July for $50, I don’t think I’d have the strength to say no.

Times are a little bit sadder this time around, but I’m thankful for family and food that make celebrating Jesus a little more familiar. 

Reflecting on Mr. Mark Hayward

Mr. Mark Hayward was of the highest quality. His integrity was unshakable. He was the first man I had ever met who told me he saved himself for marriage. That shook my world, and I too wanted to be able to tell young men the same story. My wife, daughter, and I have been deeply changed for the better because of the impression he left on me. 

Since he was the first man I knew who had been walking closely with the Lord for all of his life, I thought there would be more men like him. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how special he was-and blessed I was to share in his life. It’s difficult to capture how uniquely good this man was, so I can only think to recount one story to illustrate his character.

One summer I was working at Hume Lake after high school. When Mr. Hayward heard I was up there, he asked me if I could help him with his cabin. It wasn’t anything too difficult, but I remember wanting to just so I’d be able to spend more time with him. After he had showed me what he needed help with, we started talking as he drove me back to where I worked. He shared a story of some famous basketball player who slept around with literally hundreds of women and when asked about it, he replied “the person who is truly a man only sleeps with one woman.” As Mr. Hayward told the story, he had tears in his eyes. He encouraged me to live for Jesus and love people well. As he so frequently did, he had inspired me. 

Mr. Hayward had wrecked my view of manhood. He was one of the greatest men I knew, yet he loved people furiously. In fact, it was that very same love that made him such a great man. He taught me this: “play now – pay later, or pay now – play later.” He lived by that in every way, and it showed in his relationships. He was the embodiment of integrity, love, and manliness. I look forward to heaven when he’ll shake my hand, give me his half grin, and poke me in the chest as he so often did when he told me something important. 

MiniBlog: Bashing Millennials is a Sin

Do I need to justify my proposal? 

In most areas of life, there is cultural accountability for not viewing one’s way as the best way. One race is not better than another. One gender is not better than the other. A blue collar worker is not better than a white collar worker. And the list goes on. 

As can be expected, there are those who openly believe their race, gender, or socio-economic class is better. In most cases, those people are shunned for their arrogance and naïveté, but for some reason generational pretension is seen as a virtue. Let me emphasize this: it shows great insecurity, not strength, to bash another generation. 

The bashing goes both ways, and it’s childish. Each generation has its strengths and weaknesses. Sure, (on average) we may be more entitled, but we (on average) are more committed to social justice issues, better advocates of mental health, and are masters of technological efficiency. 

In Galatians 2 Peter is caught being ethnocentric. Rightly, Paul rebukes him for his sin. He had pride in his ethnicity just as some of us have pride in our generation. I believe Paul would give the same rebuke to a person who is bashing another generation.

If you are truly concerned with our generation, I challenge you to prove it by mentoring a millennial. I have been freed from entitlement and laziness mostly because I had great mentors from the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. Don’t tear us down for being different, build us up so we can work toward a better future together. 

MiniBlog: Bad Sabbath Teaching

Full disclosure: I am terrible at honoring the sabbath, but I think I know why. 

Have you ever heard or read something by a Christian that said, take your Sabbath and do what you want to do. If you want to watch a movie, play video games, or whatever it is that makes you happy, do that. And don’t feel guilty. 

Here’s why that’s not Biblical, restful, or effective:

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:13-14 ESV (italics added for emphasis)
Bottom line? Seeking our pleasure does not get us delight. So much of Christian teaching on the Sabbath lends itself toward giving yourself a free pass on being selfish. Let me tell you, God did not design us to feel rested from being selfish. We are not fulfilled when seeking our own pleasure. This teaching completely misses the point. 

I believe this has been an overreaction to legalistic teaching on the Sabbath. There used to be, and still is, much lunacy regarding rules and regulations on the Sabbath. 

Here’s my suggestion for making the most of the Sabbath:

  • Spend more time reading your Bible
  • Spend more time praying
  • Talk with your family (or friends) about how God is working in your life 
  • Ask God what He wants you to do

Don’t focus on your own pleasures – seek God’s pleasure and you’ll find true rest. 

MiniBlog: Why Rudolph is the Best Fairytail Christmas Story

We all know how it goes. Rudolph is different and he’s made fun of for it. One day, his defect makes him a hero instead of the misfit. What a great story. 

The story could have gone completely different. Imagine, in an alternate universe, Rudolph is approached on the renowned “foggy night” to lead Santa’s sleigh. But this time, this is Rudolph’s response:

“You all have treated me like dirt since the day I was born. Whenever I wanted to play a game or needed help, you would just make fun of me and call me names. Now, since my defect is convenient, you all want to be my best friend. I don’t owe you anything. Good luck flying in the fog, I’m going to go enjoy myself.”

Rudolph had every right to respond this way, but he didn’t. The story leaves out a few interesting details. Rudolph never complained about being left out. There was never an apology from the other reindeer. There was never an “I told you so” from Rudolph. 

He refused to play the victim. 

By definition, he was a victim, but he chose not to identify as one. Instead of becoming vindictive or revengeful, he knew who he was. He knew he was different, and he knew he had a purpose. 

When situations are out of your control, how do you respond? Do you know your purpose? Are you forgiving or spiteful? 

In a world full of victims, be a Rudolph. One day, your time will come to save the day. 

MiniBlog: A Fierce God

I know so many people who have a subconscious perception of Jesus as being weak and as a victim. Disclosure: a lot of gender generalizations are used here. Our Christian culture, in some ways, is geared toward women, but neglects to show how God appeals to manly men. All it takes is just a cursory look at popular worship music lyrics or common keys the songs are played in. Most men don’t want to sing Kari Jobe’s song:

I want to sit at your feet

Drink from the cup in your hand.

Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat

This love is so deep, its more than I can stand

I melt in your peace, its overwhelming

This is very emotional language.  Some men appreciate, but most are bored by it. Christian comedian Tim Hawkins once joked men would rather watch a game and eat nachos with God than talk about their feelings. Don’t get me wrong, men need to understand and appreciate their emotions, but unlike most women, men don’t get excited about God when they ponder emotions all day. Our churches should emphasize passages like the end of Isaiah 49:

“For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.””

As a man, this passage gets me stoked. It’s gory. It’s aggressive. God is victorious and we’re on His side. He’s our hero. This is the stuff that gets me excited about God. 

If we want men to start engaging in the call of God, we need to show them how exciting He is. He isn’t tame, he’s the greatest warrior in the universe and he is calling us to battle. Are you in?

Measuring Success in Ministry

Goals

Anyone who commits time to an endeavor should have a measure of success. If you’ve heard the acronym SMART goals, you know what I’m talking about. The “M” stands for measurable. If you have no way to determine a goal is being met, what’s the point of having one? With that in mind, many people have different rods for measuring success in ministry. Unlike a business – success in ministry is not cut-and-dry. Whenever you’re relying on the Holy Spirit, there will be strong variables. With that in mind, I came across a verse in Acts which can serve as one template for a successful church ministry.

“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7 – ESV

A Quick Background

The apostles were doing their thing preaching the word and people were being added to their number daily. Some Hellenists complained about their lacking service to widows. The apostles knew they needed to stay devoted to prayer and to the ministry of the word, so they prayerfully picked out seven people to take on the task. After they prayed and laid hands on the seven people they chose, we find the result (Acts 6:7). I see three markers of success in the verse, but let’s look at cause and effect.

Cause

The apostles were focusing on their own mission, but they were still open to the needs of others. After hearing the need, they were humble enough to know they weren’t the solution. Instead of going beyond their means – they chose other, probably more qualified, individuals to meet the need. The apostles had a clear vision of their role and refused to stray from it. The seven chosen were humble enough to meet the need. The disciples were working as a body (1 Cor. 12:12).

Effect

I see three different things happening as a result of their faithfulness:

The word of God continued to increase.

When a church is doing what it’s meant for, God’s truth should permeate its people. The disciples in the church should be eating the Bible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not literally – but it should be a constant in their lives. In a healthy church, people have a rhythm of absorbing God’s word. Some will read, some will study, some will listen, some will memorize, but all will receive and be changed by God’s word. In the words of my pastor, Jordan Hansen, they will read it and do what it means.

The number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.

In a successful, local church, disciples will be made. The church is not meant to make converts, but is meant to make disciples. Life change, by the way, is a good Litmus test for determining the difference between a convert and a disciple.

Why Jerusalem? Jerusalem was the home base. Mission work is awesome. In fact, I love it so much, my family is committing a couple years to planting a church in Belgium. That being said, disciple-making needs to start at home. Without a strong foundation of believers, mission work would be nearly impossible. In successful churches, the number of disciples being made locally will multiply greatly.

A great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

This one puzzled me. At first I thought it was a repeat of more disciples being made, but there’s something distinct to this last marker of success. After studying, I would say, here in lies the rub. Who were the priests? If you look at who they were in the New Testament, oftentimes, they were legalistic (more concerned with works, than the heart). In one example, after Jesus healed a leper, he told the man to go show a priest so it would be a testimony to him (Matt. 8:4). These guys were so obedient to works, but did not have any obedience to faith. These were “good” people.

Successful churches will reach people who consider themselves already good or holy enough. Instead of working hard at following rules, they will believe Jesus already gave them His righteousness. Jesus was perfect, so they don’t have to be. They will be free to be in relationship with Him without feeling they need to earn salvation. Legalists and Pharisees will be saved from their religion of self and will be set free by the blood of Jesus. Oftentimes, these types are considered the hardest to reach. It makes sense: how do people who think they’re saved, get saved? I don’t know. But the Holy Spirit does. And in successful churches – this miracle will be facilitated a great number of times.

Wrapping it up.

The Bible has a lot of these type of verses; where you can run with it to find out how to measure success. As far as what makes a church successful, this is not an exhaustive list. I do hope Christians will pray into this measure of success for all churches. Pray the word of God increases, the number of disciples multiplies locally, and the religious are saved.