What is your agenda for other people?

Some of us are trying to help other people buy into our agendas. 

Some of us are trying to help other people achieve their agendas.

Some of us are trying to help other people discover God's purpose and plan for their lives, and order their priorities around His agenda.

It's easy to get these mixed up, isn't it? 

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner, for trying to get people to do what I want them to do – my agenda – instead of inspiring them with what you want them to do – your agenda. Amen.

A Group and a Bible Will Solve 90% of Your Problems

A man from Africa wanted to know about a money question. A man from Alabama wanted to ask about a purpose and work issue. A man from Alaska wanted to know, "How can I make my marriage work?"

Whenever a man from another city contacts me with a problem, one of the first questions I  ask is, “Are you part of a small group of guys doing life together? It could be in a couples group where guys occasionally meet off to themselves, or in a men only group?”

And the response is almost always the same, "Why do you ask?"

I ask because I’ve discovered that when men ARE part of group, these questions rarely make it to my desk.

In fact, I estimate that 90% of all men’s problems could easily be solved if men would regularly read their Bibles for themselves and do life together with a few other men in a small group.

Yes, it's that simple. Really.

The Words That Matter Most, Elvis, and Andrew Carnegie

We hear it all the time: "Words matter." And of course, that's true. But so do actions.

Andrew Carnegie put it like this, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do."

It's hard to trust someone who repetitively doesn't follow through on what they say. 

So better not to say anything at all unless we really plan to follow through. Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

Whether we're a husband, father, boss, laborer, pastor, teacher, coach, or political leader, the words that matter most are the ones we back up with actions. 

Reputations rise and fall on whether or not we "keep" or words. As Elvis Presley pleaded, "A little less conversation, a little more action please."

 

And I Thought I Was Just Taking a Hike!

Cloudless blue skies. 50 degree weather. Low humidity. A perfect day for hiking. I parked my truck on Highway 40 at the trailhead for the Florida National Scenic Trail.

I was slowly making progress, alone with my thoughts, wrapped in solitude. I was 4 miles into my 8.5 mile route when suddenly the loud thumping rotors of a helicopter shattered the quiet.

He passed right over, no more than 500 feet above. Actually, it was kind of exciting! I hiked another 2/10s of a mile, and then he buzzed me again. Now I'm wondering, "What in the world...?"

From my GPS I knew I was close to the clay road I had picked as the turnaround point for my out-and-back hike. As I emerged out of the woods onto the road, a  white truck was blocking my path. "What in the world...?"

A former military man got out of the truck. So here was the deal. While I was quietly hiking along, a $14 billion aircraft carrier was cruising just off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. Top gun pilots and their crews had just completed all the pre-flight checks on each of their $60 million (each) F-18 fighter jets.

They were  minutes away from scrambling their jets for the sub-10 minute sortie to the Pinecastle Bombing Range where they would be assisted by a full ground and radar crew to practice annihilating Middle Eastern terrorists by strafing a mocked up caravan with live bombs. It was a complex mission with many moving parts that had been months in the making. All taking placing to the immediate west of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

And then there was me. Merrily hiking along, alone, but not quite as alone as I thought, clueless about how intertwined I had become in a much bigger picture.

As the chopper hovered overhead, the nice man explained everything. He didn't seem upset that I had almost aborted what must have been $10,000,000+ training exercise. I gave the pilot a wave, and he peeled off. The man drove me back to my truck.

As he dropped me off I was able to present him a signed copy of The Man in Mirror. Wouldn't it be something if that book hit home with him?

Let's face it. We are never as alone as we think. We are always part of a bigger picture. As well informed as we may think we are, there's a lot more going on here than we will ever understand. Occasionally, like on my hike, we get a glimpse, but most of the time we'll never hear about. And God may use you for the greater purpose of his will in what seems like a random situation.

So how should we respond when it feels like we're all alone, maybe even forgotten? Remember this: God doesn't do "random." God isn't caught off guard by what's happening to you. He doesn't say, "Oops! I didn't see that coming." He knows exactly where you are on the trail. And he is sovereignly orchestrating all human events, even our seemingly random circumstances, to guide us to him and to each other. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:11, he "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." 

"What in the world...? I thought I was just taking a hike!"

Hate

If you like something, why not just leave it at that. For example, if you love to camp in a tent, why trash someone who loves RVs. Let others be who they are. The chances of changing someone's mind are close to zero, so what good will it do? But we do know being negative separates us even more.

Who Will Remember Your Name 10 Years After You Die?

This morning I was trying to remember the name of the enormously successful businessman and iconic philanthropist in Tampa who used to own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  His name was constantly in the press. He was far more well known that you or I will ever be, yet 10 years after the last time I heard his name I can't remember it. And there are many more just like him.

Who will remember your name 10 years after you die? What a great question by which to prioritize your life! 

Protests Are The Luxury Of The Free

These angry and sometimes rage-filled protests are one of the great luxuries of freedom. Most people around our globe would be afraid to be so angry.

Can you picture demonstrations like ours in places like China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, or Iran? Where else can you trash your President (if that’s your deal) so thoroughly, whether the one on the way in or the one on the way out, and not be executed or at least thrown in jail for a very long time?

Ironically, we get to protest against the system that makes it possible to protest. And we are blessed with the time do do so: Americans are not slavishly forced to find straw on our own to meet our quota of bricks.

Protests are the luxury of the free. The mere fact that we are able to protest, or to be protested against, is in itself a cause for celebration, but also for keeping things civilized.

A good response would be to have a spirit of gratitude, humbled by the liberties afforded by freedom.

A better response would be to not speak ill of anyone, to love those against us, and to pray for those in authority. 

What would your sign say?

A Reminder About Overcoming Adversity From The National Championship Game

Life, like football, is filled with peaks and valleys. Perhaps that's one reason we love the game so much: Football imitates the highs and lows of life compressed into a 60 minute microcosm of the human experience.

So what did the warriors in the Clemson/Alabama game remind us of? 

No matter how overwhelming the current situation looks, never ever give up. As quarterback DeShawn Watson said in the huddle at the beginning of Clemson's final drive, "Don't panic." Because anything can happen. And with one second left on the clock, it did. 

As Dabo Sweeney said, "It was our night. It was our time." And for the Alabama fans? There's always next year.