Friday, November 30, 2012

It’s All In Perspective

During WWII General Creighton Abrams found himself and his troops surrounded on all sides. With characteristic optimism, he told his officers, "For the first time in the history of this campaign, we are now in a position to attack the enemy in any direction."

Perspective is everything. It will keep you from giving up in the midst of overwhelming obstacles. Are you in some discouraging circumstances? No light at the end of your tunnel? Here is a verse for your circumstances. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Praise God and be thankful continually? Does that mean in all circumstances, even the horribly bleak ones? Especially the bleak ones.
Paul and Silas faced a very terrible situation more than once in their lives. On one occasion, they were arrested for preaching the Gospel. They were beaten, thrown into a hole in the ground. Prison today is the Hilton compared to their dungeon. Most had no windows, no light, and no restrooms. There were no regular meals and the ones they got were sometimes rotten or extremely small in portion. Most prisoners were chained directly to the ground with minimal or no clothing. There were no protective laws, prisoner’s rights, or fair trials. You certainly couldn’t have any visitors and privileges were breathing and sleeping. Acts 16:24 tells us their feet were fastened in stocks, which were excruciatingly painful.

So how would you respond? When you read Acts 16:25 you will see something extremely remarkable and surprising. They were praying and singing hymns. I probably would have been praying (mostly selfishly and likely not for the Lord to use me in the situation) but probably not singing. This really shows us their perspective and resolve. This shows us the true definition of sacrificial praise. When you have absolutely nothing to be excited about and your situation looks hopeless, praise the Lord anyway. If it had been Stephen (me) in this situation and prison, you may have heard moaning and groaning, whining and complaining more than praying and praising (although I would like to think better of myself). Some may even have cursed the jailers for what they had done and God for what He had allowed.

Now listen, Jesus knows all about your pain. The crucifixion was excruciating (we get that word from crucifixion). He knows what it means to be in agony, pain, torment, and torture. He came to earth and was fully human, born to die our death for our sin (Romans 5:8). He hungered, thirst, bled, grew weary, cried, and experienced every human emotion – but never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). “Yeah, but He was Jesus”, you say. Being fully God yet fully human at the same time showed us we have options in how we respond to our circumstances. Jesus chose not to sin as a human. He was tempted, but overcame temptation in the worst of situations. We too can choose not to sin in our circumstances and temptations. 1 John 2:1 says, “I write these things to you so that you will not sin.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Perspective is everything. Here’s one to leave you on. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31). Still need another? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Friday, November 23, 2012

Yes Men Will Kill Your Organization

I love it when people agree with me.  After all, I’m always right?  Right?  Everyone likes their ideas being affirmed but having someone always agree with you is really counterintuitive.  I know I don’t always agree with those who lead me so what makes me think those under me are any different.  I’m not talking about insubordination or rebellion here.  Should people in the same team always agree with each other?  Do you always have to agree with your boss?  I would suggest the best team is comprised of people who have varying opinions.  Not in overall vision or mission (not that those can’t vary some) but mostly in strategy and implementation.  Actually if your team is made up of only “yes men” (you know those who say yes to your face) your team is really just a bunch of minions carrying out mindless objectives.  They are secretly dying on the inside and when a better opportunity comes along (or the hope of being on an actual team), they, well, in the words of Duck Dynasty, “They gone.” 

“Yes men” may look good at first because they do what they are told and don’t buck the system.  But over time they will buck the system because they feel unappreciated and aren’t being used to their full potential.  When you allow them to become “yes men” you are creating people who are only concerned with themselves.  They just want promotion, perks, and to please the boss.  You can stop the “yes men” at your organization by creating an environment that allows your team to lead with you.
Every good leader becomes a great leader through a team of people whose giftings, abilities, and ideas complement them.  Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they aren’t loyal to your team and vision.  Maybe their ideas are better?  I’ve found this to be more often true than not.  Someone telling you no may not mean they hate your ideas but that they actually want to make them better.  Hearing no from your team actually is a good thing.  It means they are thinking and being creative.  I’m not sure I’d trust someone who always told me yes.  Allowing “no’s” is also a reality check that you don’t know it all and actually function better in team.  Key point here – this goes both ways.  Just because your ideas are on the table doesn’t mean you’ll always get to do it your way.  In the end, the boss must make the final decision to benefit the whole team and organization.  If someone always has to have it their way and get upset when challenged, its best they go their separate way before they separate your organization.

People on my team who tell me no actually do me a favor.  I don’t need “yes men” and “no men”.  I need truth men.  Truth men let me know when I’m wrong and right.  The worst judge of me is me.  I need others looking out for my best interest by telling me my great ideas may not actually be that great.  The statement, “your problem used to be someone’s great idea” applies to me also.  Also, when I allow my team to tell me no it makes their “yes” so much sweeter.  Why?  I know they are telling me the truth.  This is good for me because sometimes I’m real hard on myself – my worst critic.  I tend to think less of my ideas than anyone else.  Someone I trust who validates my ideas encourages me to plunge forward.  Key point here – someone who always tells me no is not part of the team just like someone who always tells me yes.  Even when they get their “no” in they don’t help grow the team.  They just want to be right but don’t want to help build the team or organization. 
Telling me no doesn’t initially mean outright rebellion (although someone who consistently does this could be guilty of rebellion).  I have to keep in mind that they can hear from the Lord and that He gave them talent, ability, and wisdom as well.  I need pushback on my ideas because it slows me down to ensure I’m not wasting my time, talent, and treasure.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to waste my time on things that will not work if I can help it.  Asking me “Why?” can be a good thing.  Everything needs defined purpose not just, “Because I said so.”  Pushback keeps me from thinking I am greater than I really am and makes me validate what I do.  Bosses who only like “yes men” are typically insecure and like to hear “yes” more than the truth.

Not having “yes men” also brings unity to your team.  While that may sound ironic, it is actually healthy.  Unity is a good thing in any team.  Uniformity will kill your team.  Unity means we agree in the majors even if the minors don’t always come together.  There is a difference between arguing and discussing.  There is more than one way to get somewhere.  What is the purpose in the trip?  Is it a scenic route?  Are you in a hurry?  Back roads are as good as main highways as long as you get there and accomplish your main goals. 

Allowing your team to say no validates them.  They need to dream with you, not just fulfill your dream.  Yes, it comes down to the leader making the call but your team needs to express their ideas, even if they aren’t used.  Throw everything on the table, sort out the good and bad, and be productive.  When people on your team cannot express their ideas they get frustrated.  When they get frustrated, they actually start working against you even if they don’t realize it.  They start venting to each other and never to you.  They stop dreaming and start maintaining.  When your team begins to die, your vision is as good as dead.  “Yes men” aren’t leaders, they are followers.  If you want more leaders, let your people lead.  You want people on your team who make your organization better, not those who just make you look better. 

Sure, your team needs direction, job descriptions, and leadership.  Yes, you’ll have to be the one who ultimately makes the decisions.  Your team needs you to say, “Here is what I want and don’t want.”  I’m not talking about voting on everything (leadership by consensus).  You’ll never get anything done that way.  Allowing your team to lead with you instead of barking orders at them will grow your organization faster than you ever could alone.  When you don’t let them function you actually are doing it alone.  Maybe this is why your turnover is so high?  I’m learning this over time.  Encourage healthy debate and alternative solutions.  Allow them to constructively critique your ideas and come up with their own.  You’ll find this approach will not only grow your organization but also grow their hearts toward your organization and you as the main leader because they are now co-owners not hirelings.  Allowing them to lead with you actually confirms and builds your leadership.  They will follow you anywhere when you allow them to lead with you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Thanks To The Lord

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” - Psalm 100:4
The signs of the Christmas season seem to come earlier every year. Christmas decorations were already out at Halloween this year! While Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, we can very easily forget Thanksgiving if we are not careful. The Bible says that whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God. (Colossians 3:17) We should have an attitude of gratitude.  Gratitude is more than saying thank you.  It is a personal quality that molds and shapes our lives, not just something we do or say. One way to have gratitude is to remember the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday.

During the winter of 1610, the settlers of Jamestown were reduced from 409 to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God.
The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620 and were at sea nearly two months. When they arrived at Plymouth Rock, they had a prayer service and thanked God for being with them during their journey. Nearly half of them died as they struggled to build shelters and survive the cold New England winter. When spring came, Indian friends assisted them in reaping a great harvest. Because the Pilgrims were thankful, they declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God. 
Thanksgiving was originally established as a Christian holiday by President George Washington in 1789.  Because Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated consistently, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November 1863 for a day of gratitude. He declared: “We are prone to forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”

Presidents continued to annually declare a national Thanksgiving Day until 1941 when Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.   Of course, Thanksgiving is also about gathering with friends and family and having a feast. Some will watch football and parades while others enjoy time off from work and school. But sometimes at this particular time of year, we can forget about how thankful we ought to be. We need to never forget that God has blessed us. After all, God sent His son Jesus to be our Savior! (1 Corinthians 15:57) The Bible urges us to give thanks to the Lord. We are told in Psalm 106:1, "Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Thanksgiving may be tough for you this year.  Maybe you didn’t agree with the presidential election or lost investments in our economic troubles. Perhaps you are struggling with fear, rejection, anger, or bitterness?  Some may have lost their jobs and even their homes. Maybe you lost a loved one and this is the first Thanksgiving without them.  In the midst of trouble there is still room for thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving should be about God, not our circumstances. It’s easy to give thanks in good times, but what about the bad?  Instead of giving thanks for our circumstances, maybe we should give thanks to God for being with us in the middle of our circumstances?  Sometimes worship and thanksgiving can be a sacrifice because we have to push past our despair and disappointment. Maybe hardship or tragedy has hit your life in some way and giving thanks may seem tough. The Bible doesn't say, "Give thanks to the Lord, because you feel good." It says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!"

What are you thankful for?  Do you have an attitude of gratitude? A better question is to whom are you giving thanks? In the busyness of your Thanksgiving holiday, don’t forget the source of your blessings. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stop Giving Your Money To The Church

Recently I was blessed in a huge way. Someone mysteriously bought me new tires for my vehicle, another person gave me a really nice gift for my home, and another gave me some metal to finish a shed in my back yard. I was humbled and grateful for them all. I had been saving for new tires for about a year and each time I got close to the amount I needed, God told me to give it away. Once I gave it to the church as a special offering and two other times I gave it away in portions to people or organizations that had need. Now I didn’t give because I hoped I would get anything in return but because I saw the need to invest into the church and the lives of others.

I have tithed, given the first 10% of my income, to the church since I started working at age sixteen. I also consistently give an offering to the church and to other Christian ministries. When I receive a gift of any kind I always tithe on it (I tithed on the value of the tires, home gift, and the metal for the shed). Why? Because I believe God is my provider. He does it through my job and people but He is the owner who funnels it through them. I’m very thankful to the people but even more thankful to God. Tithing reflects a grateful heart that wants to give back to God a portion of what He has given us; in reality, what is already His. Tithing is our opportunity to show God that He is first in our lives. James 1:17 says that “every good and perfect gift is from above ...,” so we have an opportunity to tangibly show God He is the “owner” of our finances by giving back to Him the first of what He gives us.

There are three reasons why we should tithe. First, tithing reflects our heart. What is the most important thing to you? Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We can see the reality of that in the world today and the exaltation of the financially successful, and more personally you can see that by looking at your own checkbook. Secondly, tithing is biblical. Long before tithing was a practice of the Israelite people, Cain and Abel, the second generation of the human race, brought an offering to the Lord. The Lord blessed Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s. Abel brought the “firstborn of his flock,” while Cain brought “some of the fruits of the soil” as an offering. God wants to be first. The following scriptures show how tithing is biblical. See also Malachi 3:10, Genesis 14:18-20; Genesis 28:22, Deuteronomy 26:1-2, and Leviticus 27:30. Thirdly, tithing is a benefit. God’s kingdom is built on multiplication, not division. God uses the tithe as an investment where everyone involved gets a return on the investment. Obviously, the church and the kingdom are blessed, and yet God’s nature is to also bless the giver. For more on how tithing benefits you and those you give to through the church, see 2 Chronicles 31:4-10.

Some don’t tithe because they’ve seen churches and pastors abuse it. But tithing has nothing to do with that…it is between you and God.  We show God we trust Him, not our church or pastor. Stop giving your money to a pastor or a church - give it to God to a trusted church and pastor and let Him deal with how they deal with it.  2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says God loves a cheerful giver. This means a hilarious giver. We should give out of our hearts for Christ and His Kingdom work, not reluctantly or because of duty. When we sow bountifully, we reap bountifully. Don’t give to get, give to worship. God will reward but it may come in different form than how you gave.

Ephesians 4:11-13 in a nutshell

Apostles -Lift & lead the church
Prophets -Align it
Evangelist -Expand it
Pastors -Care for it
Teachers -Develop it

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guy On A Buffalo - Episode 1 (Bears, Indians & Such)

Ever wish someone created a video of a guy on a buffalo?  Well today is your day...hilarious!  Be sure to watch all the episodes. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Real Men

Real men get baptized in the snow.

What My Kids Need From Their Dad (Who Just So Happens To Be A Pastor)

What do my kids need from me?  How is being a dad any different because I'm a pastor?  Here's what I came up with:

1.  They need me to be a dad before they need me to be a pastor.  They need to see me, play with me, hug me, and spend time with me apart from the pastorate.  If I make time for people who need counseling, shouldn't I make time for my kids?  They need my full attention on vacation and days they are out of school - Lord, help me with this one.

2.  They don't need me to preach to them; they need me to talk to them.  I preach to a congregation, not to my kids.  I must ask them how their day was in detail.  They don't need three points and a poem from me to succeed.  They need me living out Scripture right in front of them. 

3.  They need me to be interested in what they are interested in.  I love reading books by pastors, listening to sermons, and writing.  My kids could care less about any of that.  When do I do these? When it doesn't rob from them (after they are in bed, during office hours, etc.).  When I was working on my Master's Degree I only worked on it after they were in bed or before they got up.  This was sacrifice on my part but worth it to keep involved in their interests.  Kylee loves cheerleading and Abby gymnastics.  Personally, I don't consider either a hobby or interest but if they do, I must. 

4.  They need me to be real with them.  No one can spot fake like a wife and kids.  They need the me at church and the me at home to be the same man.  They don't need religious phrases or churchy actions.  They don't need their pastor to walk into the room.  They need the real Stephen Harrison, their only daddy, to stand up. 

5.  They need to be first.  Of course, Haley is first.  I take her calls regardless of who I'm meeting with or how serious the meeting is.  They need the same attention.  I must be willing to drop everything for them if they need me.  While I must block out undivided time for them, they never need an appointment.  They don't stand in line to speak to me at church.  They need full access to their dad at all times.

6.  They need the ability to fail.  I offer grace to others in their failures - my kids need it too.  All too often pastor's kids are expected to be perfect.  They live life under a microscope.  Or at least please don't embarrass me, I'm the pastor.  I must care about their spiritual restoration and condition more than my pastoral reputation.  No matter how much my kids may fail they deserve grace from me and unconditional love - especially if I'm going to preach it.

7.  They don't need to be bounced around.  A pastor's life is made up of many meetings.  If I'm not careful my kids can be in childcare due to my meetings more than they are at home.  I have to protect my nights at home by scheduling as many meetings before 5pm as possible.  We must eat supper together at our own table several times a week. 

There are many more things my kids need from me.  Most importantly, they need me.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Go After Them

When I was in college I had a friend who committed suicide. When I heard he was in trouble, I immediately left my dorm room and searched for him but got there too late. About a month later, I had another friend who had cheated on his wife. He felt like life was over and tried to commit suicide as well. My roommate woke me up in the middle of the night and we ran to find him through the maze of cornfields that surrounded the campus. I found him and we wrestled for awhile, which gave me a black eye. We finally got him in the back of my friend’s truck and raced towards the hospital where they pumped the 100+ pills out of his stomach.

What did my friends need during that time? A lecture? Did they need me to go around talking about their condition? They needed me in the flesh going after them to save their lives. Did they want that at the moment? Yes and no. They ran because of sin they were in but deep down they did want someone coming after them. What do Christians do when someone is caught in sin? Galatians 6:1-3 in the Message says this, “If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”

Put yourself into this person’s difficult position. What would you want and need? Rumors spread? Christians putting distance between themselves and you, the “horrible sinner” (For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory – Romans 3:23). Scripture tells commands us to go after those we know are in sin to help restore them to Christ. We forgive them and lovingly walk out restoration with them as they repent. That’s the goal anyway. Sharing their burdens doesn’t mean posting it on Facebook or gossiping about it to others. It means carry the burden with them. Hurt when they hurt (Romans 12:15). Sadly most of us are so out of touch with godliness that we have an immediate reaction to either ignore it or gossip about it. Truth be known, we are our brother or sister in Christ’s keeper. We are to be responsible in helping others to be holy. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).

No one needs a sin referee with a striped shirt and a whistle. What they need is a friend who understands forgiveness, mercy, and love because they’ve experienced it from the Lord and desire to do the same to others. We must speak truth but in love. When we do this, Ephesians 4:15 says we help them and ourselves to grow up in all things and look more like Christ. If we know of someone in sin and do not go after them to help restore them we are also guilty of sin and may lose a brother or sister in the process. We shame people out of church when we don’t help them get free (Romans 8:1-2). I had a lady recently tell me that she thought about getting an abortion because she didn’t want to tell the church. What! She obviously was either deceived in the church’s potential reaction or she had seen the church not be Christ-like before. James 5:19-20 remind us, “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” Love someone enough to not quit on them. Go after them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ugly Prayers For The President

Whether your candidate won or not, 1 Timothy 2:1-4 is still in the Bible.  "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people;  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  Praying for those in authority over us - from the president you don't like to the boss you despise, is Biblical.  And our prayers should not be those of sarcasm - you know, "I pray they fail..., I pray you sick em God..., etc.).  Verse three says it pleases the Lord when we pray for our leaders.  Ask yourself, "Is God pleased with the prayer I am praying (or lack of prayer) for our president and leaders?"  Verse two tells us when we pray we will live in peace and quiet in godliness and holiness.  That is my prayer - more than lower gas prices and more jobs.  We must begin praying for all our leaders.

I saw someone post a Scripture reference on Facebook about praying for the President (after President Obama was reelected).  I looked it up and was shocked.  It was Psalm 109:8, "May his days be few, may another take over his position."  At first glance it seemed innocent enough.  Obviously their candidate didn't win.  Then I began to think about it some more.  What is their heart like in this?  Then I asked the Lord about my heart in posting Scriptures.  We should never post Scriptures to meet our agendas.  That is not only taking Scripture out of context, I believe sin.  Scripture is intended to meet God's agenda.  Is God caught off guard when someone we don't like is elected?  Is He shocked?  Is He not sovereign and provident?  I think He is shocked when His people pray for harm instead of wisdom and salvation of our elected officials. 

What really hurt me is the next scripture in Psalm 109.  I hope this person missed this scripture as they took this whole chapter out of context.  Psalm 109:9 read, "May his children be orphans and his wife a widow."  What?  That is no prayer to pray for anyone!  Read the rest of the chapter as well.  That verse in context with the whole chapter is an ugly prayer for our President.  The entire chapter of Psalm 109 is about the death of an evil person.  Is God an executioner of those with whom we disagree?  I do not agree 100% with any politician, policy, or party.  Does that mean I pray harm on them?  There is no place for ugly prayers for the President in our faith.  God isn't on a candidate's side unless that Candidate is wholeheartedly for the Lord.  Governor Romney is a Mormon, which believes God came as a man from another planet, he has a goddess wife, Satan is Jesus' brother, you can become a god on your own planet (many gods), the Trinity is three separate Gods not one, salvation is not by grace through faith, and baptism of the dead - where you can be baptized in someone else's place for their salvation.  Does this mean I pray evil upon Governor Romney?  No.  I pray 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (especially verse 4).  It pleases God, who wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of truth.  Is Obama saved?  Some say he's a Christian.  Some say he's a Muslim.  He's said both.  But God is the judge of salvation and I pray for his salvation and knowledge of Divine truth as well as that of Governor Romney.  I pray, if they haven't, they will give their lives to the Jesus of Scripture, repent of their sins, and surrender their lives to the entirety of the Gospel under the Lordship of Christ Jesus alone.  I pray this prayer for all alike, not just the President or a hopeful President-elect.

I will pray for President Obama and all elected officials and authorities.  Even if I didn't vote for them and disagree with their policy. He is the leader of this nation, and thus he is my leader.  I may have differences with Him but am mandated by the Lord to sincerely pray and honor him. 

Here is my prayer for the President and all elected officials and authorities:

Lord, I pray for the President of the United States, his cabinet, our Congress, and State and local authorities. Give them wisdom, integrity, and love for people as leaders. Help them to be great husbands/wives, fathers/mothers.  Let them have a heart for those who are truly poor, weak, and voiceless.  Let them act out of love for our nation and it's people and uphold the Constitution to it's original intent.  May they also act out of truth and wise counselors to make good decisions.  Help them to defend the unborn, Biblical marriage, and religious liberty.  Help them to serve the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.  Help them to be people of daily prayer as they become students of your Scripture.  May they be quick to forgive, quick to repent, slow to anger and speech, quick to listen.  Give them humility to admit fault and change their minds.  Lead them to your cross so they understand love, grace, mercy, and truth.

I pray that they will be voices of unification in our country.  We have so many divisions.  Whatever differences you have with the other party and politicians, please put them aside and seek the common good.  Surely we have more in common that in difference.  Please reach across the aisle to bring unity to our nation.  Let all you do bring hope not division or despair.  Do not blame others but work with them for a common good.  Make a difference, not just your point.

I truly respect the offices you hold and my prayers are not swayed by your actions and policies.  You have them.  I pray that your actions and policies will honor the positions and people you serve.  I humbly and compassionately obey the admonition of God’s Word to be committed in my prayers for you.  I know you face great responsibilities and challenges and cannot do it without the strength and wisdom that only the Lord provides.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who Not To Vote For

We should all be praying for our nation as this election approaches.  With less than a week away, many new and current politicians and policies will be voted in - and out.  I love our Nation's election system.  Every person has a say.  I always say, if you didn't vote, don't complain about who is in office.  I believe it is not only the right but the responsibility for all citizens who are eligible to vote to do so.  Even more I believe that Christians should vote if they truly want a Christian led nation.  Christians are to be salt and light in this world and must stand and be counted in their voice and vote.  But who do you vote for?  Who do you vote against?

I urge all Christians to vote their beliefs and convictions and let those come directly from Scripture.  Don't vote for a party, a promise, a union, tax issues, favorites, race, or gender.  A Christian's allegiance isn't to any of these but to the Lord and His Scripture.  Christians must uphold Biblical principles and values.  The Bible and Lord is against abortion and the redefinition of marriage.  We must vote in alignment with Scripture.  If the Bible is against it, we are too.  If the Bible is for it, we are too.  No matter the candidate.  No matter if we stand alone.  Don't vote for those who consistently violate and disregard the Lord and His Word.
America has lost its way.  The voice of the Church has been almost silenced but the Church must awaken once again.  We must first repent, seek the Lord, pour over His Scriptures and reflect the truth of them in our voice and vote.
There is no perfect candidate or party.  I'm disappointed with both major political parties.  Smear tactics, lying, promises they know they can't keep, and a host of other things are driving me crazy.  Who is fact checking the fact checkers?  I watched the Presidential "Arguments", as I saw it, and was saddened by a Nation divided in many ways.  No one can save America - only the Lord can do that.  With that said, Christians must intelligently and with much prayer not bow out of an imperfect system but wholeheartedly and unswervingly uphold Jesus in their vote.  We can't give up as Believers in an unbelieving world.  Christians should hold politicians accountable and responsible to representing their constituents.  That is why more Believers must stand and be counted.  Christians must stand up and run for offices be it local, State, or National.  Church, we all know what we are faced with in our Nation.  Economically, we are suffering.  Spiritually, we are suffering.  Morally, we are suffering.  Educationally, we are suffering.  In suffering, we are suffering.  There are many issues at hand.  We must rise up and let the voice of Christ be heard.  Compromise of Christian values is what has led us to where we are today as a Nation.  We don't need any more compromise from Christians in their obligation to uphold the Word.  While some blame is to be given to politicians, the majority of the blame must rest with the Church itself.  I believe we are in a war with the Church that refuses to take a stand and get up off of laziness and procrastination.  When Believers do not vote their Christian values they ultimately destroy our Nation by letting those with values against God's moral law control our government, law, and lives.   

Psalm 33:12 says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD."  Over half of registered voters did not vote in the last Presidential election. Only half of the people eligible to register to vote were registered.  Many died for the right to vote and we don't even bother to register, much less vote.  Way less than half of Christians who are registered to vote did so in the last election.  Christians must stand up and be counted.  “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” (Luke 8:16, NIV).  We must stop hiding our faith - specifically, because it is upon us, in the political arena.  Let your light shine and vote Christ's values. 

25 Things You Should Keep Saying To Your Kids

Having kids can be fun, joyful, scary, and downright unpredictable at times. Parents have a huge responsibility to be good stewards of the kids God has entrusted them with. I really want to be a good dad. In order to do that I know I must carry on meaningful conversations with my kids. I saw a statistic once that most parents only spend 10-15 seconds of meaningful conversations with their kids daily. Yes, seconds! This statistic excludes any statements like, “pick up your room, stop doing that, etc.”

We don’t need a degree in parenting to talk to our kids. You especially don’t need a seminary degree to talk to them about the things of the Lord either. Parents must be themselves and share with their kids out of their relationship with the Lord and live life with, not separate from, their kids. Being real is what relationship is all about! Sunday morning isn’t the only time you can talk to your kids about the Lord. Deuteronomy 6 tells us the four most influential times of everyday to talk to our kids about the Lord and life. “And these words that I command to you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Bedtime, morning time, travel time, and house time. These are times that all of our minds are more idle and contemplative and are very crucial times to building relationships. Parents, you should plan to speak great things into your kids during mealtimes, sit around the house times, bedtime and getting ready for the day times.

Conversations truly develop as you go about doing life with your kids. Every moment in life is a teaching moment and an opportunity to invest into your kid’s life. They need to see you spending time reading your Bible, serving someone, and being involved in your faith, but what about reading the Bible to them or taking them with you to serve? Those are great times to disciple and build relationships. There will be many opportunities to teach them a lesson about the Lord. How they see you respond to crazy traffic, hectic schedules, and even cooking dinner will impact them greatly. Your actions speak a lot about you and your faith in the Lord. Maybe they speak more than words?

So what should you be saying to your kids? You must realize the importance of starting conversations with your kids. Why wait till they speak to you or ask you questions? I came up with twenty five statements all parents, no matter the age of your kids, must keep on saying out loud to their kids.

Here we go in no particular order: I love you. I forgive you. Will you forgive me? I’m sorry. You are valuable. Of course I’ll play with you. I’m proud of you. Jesus loves you. I’m never too busy. I love you enough to discipline you. Let’s go to church together. It's OK, everyone messes up. Do what honors God. Can I pray with you? Respect others. Let’s go have some fun. Love others more than yourself. You are beautiful. No matter how much you mess up, I’ll always love you. I mess up. I’ll never leave you. Serve others. You are good at ______. Yes, I’ll be there. Respect others, especially those in authority. How was your day? OK, that’s more than twenty five, but I could go on and on about this. But you and I both need to go and say these, and more, to our kids.