Articles

The Shots You Don’t Take

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

Take some time today to meditate upon this quote from the legendary Hall of Fame hockey player. It is profound and very true.

Maybe you feel stuck in a rut. Maybe you feel trapped in your career. Are you yearning to do something else, and wonder what’s out there? But then the fears, doubts and “what if’s” come into play and you quickly douse out the flame.

Look at the Henry Ford’s and Thomas Edison’s of the world. They repeatedly tried and failed. They kept trying, recalculating and pushing. Look at what happened.

Meditate upon the following passage from the wisest man to ever walk the earth, King Solomon.

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

  • If you are waiting for perfect conditions, Solomon said, you will never be a successful farmer. The same applies to every endeavor of life. Perfect conditions exist only in heaven.
  • If you are waiting for confirmation that what you are setting out to do is going to be 100% successful, then you will never get started. Solomon said, you “do not know.” But this “not knowing” can be paralyzing to many of us. Paralyzing.

I’m not encouraging you to step out without seeking God’s counsel and the advice of wise counselors. What I am encouraging you today to do is to remember that God in Scripture encourages us to do the very thing Wayne Gretzky advised.

Take a shot!

Becoming a Better Listener

The thought for today is…How well do you listen to your children?

“But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19)

Here are some basic indications of whether we need to work on our listening skills:

  1. If you are doing all the talking (i.e. lecturing), by definition you are not listening very much.
  2. When your children keep saying things like, “Dad, you’re not listening,” then you need to pay attention to this cue. They are probably right.
  3. If you keep interrupting, you are not taking time to let your son or daughter explain what’s on his or her mind.
  4. If you are thinking of what to say next, then you are really not waiting to hear their side of the story.
  5. If you assume what you heard instead of asking questions to clarify, then you become the judge without a fair trial.

“He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Keep in mind, dads, that our children first get an understanding of approaching the “Father in heaven” by their experience in approaching their father on earth.

  • Are you approachable?
  • Does your child feel like you are going to pounce on her verbally before she even finishes her sentence?

Today, take some time to reflect upon this. May the Lord give us the patience, humility, and approachable spirit that willingly listens to our children.

Where is Jesus?

So, if your wife is a Christian, ask yourself, “Where is Jesus right now?” You might respond to me with, “What do you mean?”

Since Jesus promised that He would come and make His home with us (John 14:23), that means He has made His home in my wife’s life as well.

There have been many a time in our marriage when my wife, Anna, was stressed and having a difficult time “getting it together.” Of course, considering all that Anna as a homeschooling mother of six deals with on a daily basis, it should be understood that she would have times when being calm is just not going to happen. This does not define her as a person, this is just what happens to all of us (men included) during our “moments.”

I remember that through many of those times Anna was stressed and having a hard time with her emotions, that I was not the help she needed. Whether I simply thought it in my mind, or just came right out and said it to her, it was clear that I thought she was being ridiculous and needed to get a grip. Guess how that turned out? Yeah, not well.

What she needed was my acceptance and understanding, which is what Jesus was giving her at that moment. Jesus calls me to give her genuine acceptance and understanding when she is really having a bad day. She doesn’t need a daddy correcting her, she needs a husband who loves her like Jesus does.

“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).

So, where is Jesus when Anna is having one of those “moments”? And that’s what they are…just moments. My Bible says He is right there with her, loving her through it and being her shoulder to cry on and her friend with a listening ear (Hebrews 4:14-16).

So, if Jesus is right there beside her with His arms around her, where do I need to be?

By the way, where do I want Jesus to be when I’ve having one of my own moments?

Moses was faithful even when…(6 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#6 Moses was faithful to God even when things did not work out as expected.

Consider the past 5 articles leading up to today:

  • Would you be faithful to God even if you don’t want to do the job?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when the enthusiasm is gone?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you receive little appreciation?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you begin to doubt your own value and effectiveness?
  • Would you be faithful to God even when you lose support of those closest to you?

All of us would naturally struggle with one of these more than another. What we mean is that some will endure everything as long as they have their family. Others can endure a lot of junk thrown their way as long as they feel appreciated and valued.

So, what if you go through all of the above things, and things still don’t work out like you planned and hoped? Would you be faithful to God?

After 40 years of leading Israel, and after all of the heartache, sacrifice and pain, Moses was not able to go into the Promised Land. Because of a moment of weakness and exasperation toward the people of Israel, Moses had at one point taken the glory for himself and God told him the consequences for doing this (see Numbers 20).

Later, near the end of his life, he begged for God to change His mind. “Let me I pray, cross over and see the fair land,” and God replied “Enough! Speak to Me no more on this matter…for you shall not cross over this Jordan” (Deuteronomy 3:25-27).

How did Moses respond to this?

What does a real man do? What does a real man do when things don’t work out like he planned?

This is so important for those of us who are driven by results and “success” (as we define it). What happens when the road we have carefully and methodically plotted out takes a wrong turn and we are left with broken dreams? What happens when God says “No” to our heartfelt requests? Lesser men will throw up their hands, quit and walk away.

Moses asked God to appoint a good leader to succeed him, because he did not want Israel to be like sheep without a shepherd. When God told Moses that Joshua would be the new leader, Moses spent a great deal of time encouraging and strengthening Joshua because of the awesome task at hand. Moses remained humble, focused on God’s glory, and always thoughtful of what was best for God’s people…even when things did not work out like he hoped for himself. Moses gently submitted to God’s decisions, even when he didn’t agree.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Moses was faithful even when…(5 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#5 Moses was faithful to God even when those closest to him turned against him.

Sometimes standing for something means you will be standing alone.

Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ own sister and brother, turned against him at one point. Amazingly, when God punished Miriam because of this with leprosy, it was Moses who prayed for her to be healed. He was faithful to God even when those closest to him opposed him.

It is at this point in Moses’ life that the Bible says that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). Moses’ heart was truly set on God – even when his own family turned on him, he did not get defensive or proud. He did not make it about him, he turned his heart toward God in prayer. Moses still loved his family even though they behaved this way toward him.

Moses was not the only person in Scripture who had to stand alone.

  • Jesus’ brothers thought He was crazy, and His closest friends abandoned Him when He was arrested. Jesus kept His focus on the Father and doing His will.
  • The apostle Paul wrote that during one of his trials in Rome that “no one stood” with him. However, the “Lord stood with him and strengthened him.”
  • Samuel was deeply hurt and felt rejected when the Israelites asked for a king. God reminded Samuel that the people had rejected Him, not Samuel.
  • Job’s wife said to curse God and die. Job kept his eyes on the Lord.
  • David’s most loyal soldiers at one point all turned against him and wanted to kill him. Yet, David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

People won’t always understand your priorities.  Your fellow Christians sometimes won’t be going the same direction. We can’t force what is important to us to be important to those closest to us.

Humble service can shed light on lack of commitment in others.  Without saying a word our actions can make those around us feel guilty and that guilt will often be displayed in criticism and disapproval.

So, the question comes, will you be faithful even when you have to be faithful alone? Remember, though, that with God you are never alone. We truly learn to find our peace, comfort, joy and strength in God during the times we are not finding it in those closest to us.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do to the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.
  4. He doubted his own value and effectiveness.
  5. Those closest to him turned against him.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

 

Moses was faithful even when…(4 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#4 Moses was faithful to God even when he doubted his own value and effectiveness.

Even Moses got tired. Leading the Israelites in the wilderness was a daily beating. In Numbers chapter 11, it really started to wear on Moses. He started to wonder, “Why me, God?” He felt alone and ineffective. In this chapter, we find Moses at the point where he cried out for God to either send him help or kill him!

Moses felt alone. God came to his aid. God sent Moses helpers.

The prophet Elijah who lived much later than Moses also went through the same thing. He felt alone and useless. His life’s work was in vain, in his eyes. He asked for God to take his life. God made Elijah aware that there were 7000 others who were also faithful. God also comforted Elijah and sent him helpers.

You are going to feel alone at times. You are going to feel ineffective and you’re going to wonder if you are really making a difference. There will be times that you feel like the only person around who gets it.

Questioning our impact is part of the process.  Frustration does not equal failure.  Allowing the frustration to cause us to quit is failure. Its part of the growth process, and it frankly stinks, but if we have honest hearts we will be better for it.

Sometimes we doubt our value and effectiveness because:

  • We are looking for immediate results to long-term endeavors.
  • We are just plain worn out, and have become unrealistic and shortsighted. We might just need a break and a breath of fresh air.
  • We have painted the wrong picture of what success is. Maybe you need to sit down with an objective, wise advisor to help you see things more clearly. That advisor might help you redesign your goals and strategy. He might help you redefine what “success” means in whatever it is you are doing.
  • We are listening to the few complainers causing us problems and not paying attention to the others who are really benefiting from what we are trying to do. It is easy to see the critics, the complainers, and non-responders.
  • We are focusing on our efforts instead of God’s efforts working through us and through others. Remember Moses and Elijah both felt alone, but they were not really alone. They were making it about them at that point and had to have their spiritual eyesight adjusted.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.
  4. He doubted his own value and effectiveness.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Moses was faithful even when…(3 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#3 Moses was faithful to God even when he received little appreciation.

Moses is the poster child for leading people who had zero appreciation. In fact, Moses did not only have to do this job without much gratitude coming from the Israelites, he had to deal with them constantly opposing him, falsely accusing him, complaining against him and even attempting to kill him!

But through all of this, Moses remained faithful, even to the point of praying for these very same people to be forgiven.

So, why do we serve? Do we serve for the appreciation and recognition of the people around us? Do we quit or avoid a task when it might not make us very popular? Do we serve in order to look better and more “righteous” than others? Or do we serve for the glory of God?

One way we find out the answers to those questions is how we serve when we are getting a lot of resistance and very little appreciation for our efforts.

Let’s apply this principle to our parenting.

Are you parenting to win the coolest dad award? Are you trying to be your kid’s best friend or are you trying to be their father? There are times when you a buy them a present they’ve “always wanted” or take them to a really awesome place, and they will think you are the greatest. You can even post those things on social media and even more people will tell you what an awesome dad you are.

And then there are those other times.Your child will not always think you’re cool and awesome.

  • Your child will not always do cartwheels and sing your praises when you ask them to do things.
  • Your child will not always know and appreciate what you go through for them (and if you tell them a million times what you do for them they won’t get it…yet).
  • Your child will be thankful one moment and whine the next about what they don’t have. They’re not much different from adults are they?

We do not mean to say that you should intentionally try to lose popularity with your kids. However, when you tell them to turn off the Xbox and do their homework, and when you tell them that they cannot go outside and play because they did not clean their room, those kids will look at you like you have three heads. When your daughter has been dishonest, rude or ungrateful, and now she expects you to drive her to soccer…guess what? She is going to learn a very hard lesson at that point, and she is not going to like it. “You’re not going to soccer tonight, sister.” Don’t make it a long and drawn out lecture; just state the facts and set down the law and do not waver.

Don’t overreact and go all Mortal Combat on them for their poor attitudes and lack of gratitude for you. You’ll end up making it more about you than them. Be firm, make them obey and let them feel the consequences of their attitudes. Be firm and make sure they respect their mother when she asks them to do something. You might win quick popularity points with the kids by taking sides with them against their mother, but you will lose big time in the end (the kids will become master manipulators).

Just remember: They may not like you now, but they will love you (and thank you) later.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Moses was faithful even when…(2 of 6)

Moses was faithful to God even when…the enthusiasm was gone.

By Andy Harrison and Aaron Kemple

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#2 Moses was faithful to God even when the job was harder than expected and the enthusiasm was gone.

It did not take long for the people of Israel to change their mind and lose confidence in Moses and in God’s plans for deliverance. When Moses first met with the elders of Israel and told them about God’s plans for delivering them, they responded by bowing their heads and worshiping. It seems that they were excited; they apparently anticipated God’s mighty hand to swoop down on Egypt and take Israel in one swift movement to the Promised Land.

But then things just got hard. Pharaoh added more work to their already demanding quota, and then beat them for not making it. The people cried out to Moses. Moses cried out to God. This is not what we signed up for!

Moses came back to the people with more hopeful and encouraging words from God, but “they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.” They were so beat down physically and emotionally, they could not even listen to what Moses had to say.

So, what did Moses do? He stayed on God’s path. He pressed on with the mission God called him to. He confronted and rebuked Pharaoh, as God called him. He did the miracles and signs God sent him to perform. “Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did.”

Let’s apply this principle to our marriages.

Are we faithful to God (and to our wives) even when the enthusiasm is gone? Has your marriage lost its “zing?” The honeymoon is long gone, the bills are piling up, both of your bodies are changing, the kids are screaming, work is demanding, on and on and on it goes. Maybe you enjoy spending time with people other than your wife, because they seem to be more exciting.

So what will you do? You could leave. You could find a new hottie. You could devote more time to your job and hobbies. You could pursue perverted ways to spice up your “love” life. You could pour yourself into your church activities. You could even become a better dad. But none of those will fix what is wrong with your marriage.

Have you considered, prayed, and sought counsel on how to bring life back into your marriage? Have you forgotten to do the things you used to do for your wife when you were dating and newly married?

Even if your wife does not reciprocate the intimacy, and even if she is not all that excited about you anymore, you must still seek to honor and cherish her. You must continue to find ways to rekindle the intimacy. She might eventually respond if you continue to be faithful like Moses.

On the other hand, looking at this from another direction, sometimes life is just routine. It’s ordinary. It is not always flashy. There is not always a party in the bedroom.  In some ways it will not be the same as the first year together, and that is ok. Some folks have a hard time accepting the ordinary and mundane, but that is just part of life.

Moses did the things God commanded, even when #1 he did not want to do them, and #2 even when the lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Tomorrow is point #3, Lord willing.

Moses was faithful even when…(1 of 6)

Moses was faithful to God even when…he didn’t want the job.

By Andy Harrison and Aaron Kemple

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

What does it mean to be faithful? Does it mean I “go to church?” Does it mean, “I’m a pretty good guy?”

Faithful means: dedicated, loyal, trustworthy, or reliable. Faithfulness is a core quality of God Himself. You can count on God…period. He never fails. He is there in good times and bad. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

So, how was Moses like God in faithfulness?

#1. Moses was faithful to God even when he didn’t want to do the job.

He didn’t want to go back to Egypt, he felt completely unqualified, he certainly did not want to confront Pharaoh, and he begged for God to send someone else to lead Israel. Yet, he humbled himself and obeyed God’s call to lead.

As a man serving God, there are simply things you just don’t want to do (or feel unqualified to do), but you do them because you are a man who seeks the glory of the only true and living God. Do you only pick the easy jobs? Do you only go for the jobs that keep you in your comfort zone?

Moses had left Egypt behind and was sitting comfortably in Midian with his family and had been so for 40 years. Why leave now? He had already tried to be Israel’s deliverer 40 years ago and it didn’t work, why would it work now?

Yet, Moses went to Egypt, he didn’t want to, but he went. And the Lord went with him.

Men, your greatest example of a man is Jesus Christ, and He did not want to do what He did for you. He groaned in His spirit and was troubled concerning the cross. He was distressed about it, the Bible says. He begged, while literally sweating blood, for the Father to let this cup of anguish called the cross pass from Him. Yet, because of His love for God, His hope of glory and His love for you, He did it anyway.

What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a faithful man?

Today, we want you consider that being a faithful man means that you are faithful to God even when you don’t want to do the job. You do it anyway, because it is what God asked you to do.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Tomorrow is point #2, Lord willing.

Worthless Physicians

But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom! (Job 13:4-5)

 Job’s three “friends” came to him after he had suffered catastrophic and devastating loss in every area of his life. They began to accuse him of what was wrong and why he was suffering. They also had the answers for how to fix all his problems, which were based on the wrong assumptions about why he was suffering. They did everything but help Job at his lowest point and darkest hour.

Job called them worthless doctors. Later in Job 16:1-2, he called them “miserable comforters.”

What would make a physician worthless? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Wrong assumptions. When a doctor comes in and already has you and your situation pegged before he walks in the door, he isn’t really going to listen to you. He began with the wrong assumptions and built his case on the wrong information.
  2. Incorrect diagnosis. Because he did not listen to you, nor did he ask the right questions, it will be impossible for him to correctly diagnose what’s wrong with you.
  3. Wrong medicine. How on earth could a doctor prescribe the right medicine when he began with the wrong assumptions and incorrectly diagnosed your condition? In fact, the medicine he would prescribe on this basis may make your condition worse. You might even die.

Is it possible that you and I are “worthless physicians” and “miserable comforters”?

  • How often do we have our Christian brothers and sisters pegged and put in a box before we even talk to them?
  • When someone is going through a difficult time, how well do we actually listen to his or her story?
  • Are we already thinking of what to say?
  • Are we standing aloof in judgment of how they are not handling this the way “we think” they should handle it?

Consider what Job said in response to his friends in chapter 16. Job knew the difference between what a person could say and what a person should say.

“I also could speak as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain” (Job 16:4-5).

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. At least Job’s friends got that right for the first seven days they were with him. They opened their mouth and removed all doubt as to what kind of friends they were.

Today, seek to listen. Seek to understand. Seek to ask questions and truly be engaged while someone is talking. Seek to cast out preconceived notions about a brother and what you would do to fix his problems (James 1:19).