4 Reasons Boycotting the National Anthem Hurts Rather Than Heals


It is a privilege to live in the USA, an honor most of us take for granted on a daily basis. While many still face prejudice, even that is quite tame to the immense freedom and prosperity all enjoy in our amazing country.

So our NFL players got the idea that kneeling during the National Anthem and saluting of flag would evoke change. Since they are boycotting the flag, are they also willing to boycott the freedoms that come with it? I think not.

From my perspective, the problem with NFLers demonstrating during the National Anthem is multi-fold:

1) The National Anthem, along with saluting the flag, is not the issue nor does it represent the issue.

The National Anthem resounds with powerful words of freedom and patriotism. Blood, sweat, and tears were shed for the words of that song to be more than just words. When people kneel when it is sung, it is disrespecting the sacrifice of our ancestors and legacy of their bravery. If you want to make a statement about racism and injustice, pick another way. It feels like you are throwing the baby out with the bath water here.

2) Americans are guilty of giving their sports heroes credibility in subjects they don’t deserve.

Yes, they are incredible athletes who have risen to the top of their sport. They are not politicians, historians, attorneys, orators or anything else they often try to represent. We must recognize this fact. Sure they have a right to express their opinion, but we should not give so much credence to them just because they can throw and catch a ball well. We empower their voice to be more than it really is, more than we ought to.

3) We have to be more direct in dealing with the problems.

Kneeling during the anthem doesn’t make change. It only causes controversy and divisiveness. Change comes when influencers of all races come together to find forgiveness and set the tone for peace and unity. Standing as one – a team representing a diverse group of people united for a common purpose – is far more effective in the fight against division. On the field and in every facet of life.

4) Boycotting the National Anthem is hypocritical.

You can’t boycott the symbol of freedom, yet partake in all its blessings, and be taken as an authentic voice of change. I don’t think racism is acceptable on any level.  However, protesting this way is not only ineffective but makes the situation even worse. The hypocrisy of the athletes has only brought more unhealthy intensity to the issues, and we are more divided than ever.

In this great country, we do have a right to protest. But we have a greater responsibility to love, to respect, to uphold each other. To stand as one nation under God, indivisible, for liberty and justice for all. With this pursuit, may the only knee we take be to the One who can bring us all together.

Criticism is What You Need to Grow


If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. Matthew 18:15

There are many things we love to receive: a gift, a pat on the back, a million dollars! Some things we never want to be given: a pink slip, toothache, shark bite, or criticism!

Please, no shark bites. But truth that is criticism can be just what you need to grow. Sure, it doesn’t feel good to have someone call your issues out. We try really hard to debunk what they have said because we don’t want to feel the shame that comes over us for being flawed. We do not like to have our issues called out, but truth is, criticism is good for us when it is given in the right spirit, coming from someone whose motive is pure and gracious.

Criticism gives great perspective. One person said, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” It makes things that are fuzzy in my perception of myself come into focus. We often have blind spots and don’t realize how we are perceived, what our facial expressions communicate, how what we say is taken, and many other things that we do not realize people are seeing as flaws in us.

When someone has the courage to reveal it to us in love, we would be foolish to disregard or discredit what they are saying. We should receive it humbly and thankfully. Some of my biggest moments of growth came when someone cared enough about me to tell me the truth, and I received it. Sure it stung, but I grew because they said it and I had the courage to receive it.

Here are some things to consider when receiving constructive criticism:

1) Do not take it personally. If they care about you, they are not attacking you personally or trying to hurt you. They want to help you.

2) Feedback makes you stronger. One of the most valuable gifts, and one given sparingly in complete honesty, is feedback. Feedback that is critical might hurt our pride, but ultimately, we should want to be better and not deceived into thinking we are better than we are. Hurt my pride before you let me keep making the same mistake over and over again!

3) It expands your perspective. You just can’t see things sometimes. They are just out of your peripheral vision. Until someone points it out, you don’t realize certain things about you. If you are hypersensitive and insecure, you will run from criticism because you can’t face the fact that you are flawed. This is tragic, though, as you miss opportunity to increase your range of sight and see yourself more clearly.

4) It challenges our people-pleasing. This is a big one for me, personally. When someone contradicts me, I do not need to see that as persecution. It is exhausting trying to live for the approval of everyone. Being able to give and receive criticism is a way of living healthier in your relationships.

5) It deepens your relationship and trust. When someone has the courage to approach you in love and critique you, and you respond correctly, I guarantee your relationship will grow to a deeper, more trusting level. That is a person you want to keep close to you. It is a rare find, a friend like that.

Let me sum it up: If you are not open to constructive criticism, then you are not open to growing as a person.

Ten important “What if” questions I like to ask you…


1. What if I told you ten years from now your life would be exactly the same as it is now? Why are you afraid of change? God wants us to step out and take risks. Don’t stay the same because you haven’t arrived yet to where God wants you.

2. What if I told you that no one on Facebook really cares what you are doing today? We give people to much control in our happiness. We need them to approve of us to feel wanted. Why? We have the Lord who calls us His child!

3. What if 99 of the 100 things you are worrying about all the time never happen? Was it worth being robbed of life so you could be consumed with worry? Where has it gotten you? Instead, trust. Trust in the Lord who has you in His hand. He will see you through.

4. What if you woke up this morning and you only had left those things which you had given thanks to God for yesterday? Our selfishness makes us forget to be thankful for what we have. Are you content? You should be. God has blessed you!

5. What if you are trusting in a bunch of lies that you have convinced yourself are true? If we buy into the lie that this life is all about accumulating stuff, achieving, and having fun then we will miss the real purpose of life.

6. What if instead of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else you found value, purpose, and joy in where you are? Until we learn to be content in having the Lord nothing else will ever really satisfy us.

7. What if in all your struggle to gain your life you only get further away from ever really finding it?  To really gain life you have to be willing to lose it. When we come to the end of ourselves we find out who we really are.

8. What if  we set forth to accomplish things with no fear of failure? God wants us to live radically. He would have us seize the day and live adventurously. Quit letting fear paralyze you.

9. What if how we perceive a problem is actually the biggest part of the problem? Perspective is key. How we see things will determine how we respond to it. Make sure your perception lines up with the will and word of God.

10. What if you forgave yourself? How long you going to live in defeat for your past mistakes??? God forgives you if you look to Him. You can’t control anyone else’s feelings toward you. Move forward and quit reliving  your failures.

 Top 10 Topics Christians Are Not Learning About

As infected saints, we would do well to not avoid topics because they are convicting. If we desire to be like Jesus, we should want to know and experience the deeper things of the faith. Here are the topics I believe are being neglected by most Christians today.

1. Fasting– Fasting is found throughout Scripture as a way of mourning and refocusing. Even Jesus fasted before He started His ministry. Fasting is a spiritual act of creating space by abstaining for a period of time from something good in order to draw nearer to God. I can say from my own experience with fasting that it is a megaphone to God’s voice in my life. I gain clarity of purpose and perspective from the Lord. It is a neglected discipline that would be powerful in our lives if we practiced it.

2. Repentance– Who wants to talk about turning away from the pleasures of sin? Repentance is out of style with churches that have gone easier on sin. Yet, repentance is a way of life for a Christian trying to be like Jesus. Confessing and turning away from sin must be part of the Christian life.

3. Holiness– We are called to be holy as God is holy. We don’t talk often enough about being “set apart” as a holy people. Holiness is what makes us different than the world. If we look like the world, then our message loses its relevance and power to a lost world. How we live matters.

4. Accountability– In our rebellion towards God, we resist accountability. We don’t want to be told we are wrong, especially when we like doing what we are doing. We find all kinds of ways to excuse accountability and rationalize our sin. Many Christians neglect this practice in their lives and are hindered spiritually because of it.

5. Singleness– The church often lacks a strong message about being single. Most messages and programs are centered around the married. Singleness is not addressed as it should be. The Bible celebrates singleness as an opportunity to be more devoted, without distraction, to the Lord (1 Cor 7).

6. The Holy Spirit– We often celebrate two members of the triune Godhead. We magnify the Father in worship and prayer. We highlight the Son as our hope of salvation. So often, the Holy Spirit is, at best, insinuated in our churches. There is the assumption the Spirit is real and moving. We non-charismatics just don’t speak about Him often enough. He was so vital to the church that Jesus told His disciples to be glad He was leaving because He was sending the Spirit!

7. Sex– This is often a taboo topic in church, though it is a major topic in the minds of young people and adults. Its distortion is plastered on billboards, magazines, Internet, and television. Yet, God created it as good. The church needs to speak boldly and clearly on the topic.

8. Old Testament– It is easy to focus on the New Testament as a Christian; it is the story of Jesus and His church.  On the other hand, the Old Testament offers strange stories, the constant failure of Israel, several gruesome battles, and prophets preaching naked in the streets and talking about dry bones. It feels more appropriate for a Jerry Springer show than our reading list. Yet, the Old Testament is raw because life is hard and cruel—it gets real about sin and consequence. It tells the story of man’s restoration to God and the promise of the coming Savior.  Therefore, it is vital to our understanding of the Gospel.

9. Heaven/Hell– We refer to Heaven and Hell a lot, but do we talk about them as a future reality in our lives? We need to talk about Hell because it creates urgency within us to share the Gospel with those who are without Jesus. We need to talk more about Heaven because it spurs us on to endure and finish well.

10. Parents as Spiritual Leaders– Parenthood is the toughest thing I do! It is difficult to parent well. Our kids need to see their parents are not Christian in name only. Kids should not get all of their spiritual knowledge and training just from the church. Parents need to be challenged to be spiritual leaders at home. This is an epidemic in churches today. The church is given the task of raising students spiritually. That robs children of the guidance they need from their parents spiritually. It robs parents of playing a role in the most important area of their child’s life!

I pray we give more and more attention to these topics. They are vital to our spiritual life.  ~Dax

Last Week of Jesus- Thursday

 

 

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.    Matthew 26:36-44

It is Thursday night. In less than 24 hours Jesus will be dead. Could you imagine the emotional turmoil of knowing tomorrow would be your last? Jesus was humans and he was struggling with knowing what was to come.  So he led his disciples to go and pray. His favorite spot was the Garden of Gethsemane. He and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper for the Passover. Jesus had watched as Judas left the table to go and betray Him. He passed the cup to Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him three times tomorrow. One last intimate meal with his twelve, knowing they would all scatter from Him in His hour of greatest suffering.  Jesus needed perspective so He went to the garden to find peace, guidance, and comfort from His Father.

How Jesus dealt with his impending suffering and death epitomizes how we should deal with our own pain and tragedy. We can learn how to deal with our own times of trials and pain from Jesus here in three specific ways.

Jesus brought Friends With Him

In His most difficult hours, anticipating His own death, Jesus drew his friends close to him. During these difficult times, we need people to walk with us. So many times we isolate form others when facing tough times. Be vulnerable with them. You are hurting. Ask them to bear it with you. People who care about you will do that. Jesus never shut them out. Even though they were often confused and probably frustrating to him, He included them until the end. He needed them.

Don’t Write Friends Off If They Fail To Meet Your Expectations and Disappoint You

Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. It had been a rough and tiring week. They were emotionally and physically spent. While praying, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed to say the least. Wouldn’t you be? You are going to die and your closest friends fall asleep on you when their supposed to be praying for you! But what I want you to notice is that Jesus did not write them off. He continued to let them in and share His burden even after they disappointed Him. He needed them and He did not let their mistake destroy the bond. We need friends to be with us when we are hurting but we need to remember they have their own lives to live and their own struggles to face. They may fail to meet our expectations perfectly in our time of need. Show them grace. You need them. Let them be there for you even in their imperfections and quirks.

Jesus was Persistent In Praying

Jesus found a special place to pray. He found His prayer closest. No coined prayers offered here. Jesus prayed his guts out. His intimacy with the Father was on full display. Jesus prayed all night and did not stop until he had peace and His answer. Notice Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. He wanted to be saved from the torture, the pain… He wanted to be released from impending death. Yet, His Father said no. His Father’s will was for Jesus to die for humanity. The very ones to kill Jesus was who He would be dying for.  Jesus submitted fully and came to peace with what his father desired. We give up to quickly in our prayers. We pray a quick prayer and walk away already anticipating no clear answer. Why? We need to pray with determination. We need to cry out to God and not stop until we hear from him. God will answer if we seek Him until he does. If we need to pray all night then so be it. God will answer.

What a gut wrenching night this was for Jesus and his disciples. To know that tomorrow you die. Jesus could have stopped it. He had the power to do so. Yet, he submitted to His Father and died for us. He went through all of this suffering for me and for you. When we suffer, He is with us. He understands our pain and agony. He has experienced it. We are never alone. He walks with us all the way into eternity.

Why God Created You To Work


23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, Colossians 3:23


I owe, I owe, so off to work I go! 

That was the bumper sticker on the car in front of me today as I drove to work. Kind of sums it up doesn’t it? Most of us begrudgingly trek to work every day out of necessity. For the blessed few who love what they do (like me!) you don’t hate it but it still is a job. There are stressful days, frustrations with people, difficult tasks. The burden we carry in our job can be heavy. We can easily lose our joy if we lose sight of the bigger picture. Working for money or a better position or to pay the bills is less than satisfying. It will suck the life from us. What we need is vision. We need to catch a vision for why God wants us to work. When He created the universe he declared it work and called the result good. The seventh day He took a well deserved break. He then created man and woman and told them to work to subdue the earth. This might surprise you but work is not a product of the fall. Adam and Eve were working before they ate of the forbidden fruit. After the Fall the earth just stopped cooperating. Work became a lot harder but they still were called to do it. They were created to do so. And so are we.

Maybe we need to catch a vision for why God created work. We need to understand that he made us so that we need to be doing something that contributes to a greater purpose than ourselves, something that benefits others, and ultimately glorifies His name. You can do this in whatever you are called to do. And we need to see it as a calling and not just a job.  If you are a teacher, then you sharpen your skills to be the best communicator of knowledge possible because you know God loves truth. If you are a shoemaker then you don’t have to  put a cross on the shoe to glorify God but you make the best shoe you possibly can because God is honored by precision and quality. If you stay at home then you create a home of order and hospitality because your God brings order to all things. Whatever your job is you need to catch a vision for how God can be glorified in it. He wants you to work towards a pattern of excellence in whatever you do because He is glorified in that. 

It does not matter where you land on the pay scale, if you are in management, or whether you use your hands, mind, or both for your job. Whatever you do, catch a vision for why God has you there. When you put your best effort and keep the right attitude in your job, others will notice. When they notice they will wonder why you work so hard. You will have opportunity to glorify God in an even greater way, by sharing your faith with them. When they ask why you work so hard, you declare that you do it to glorify your Father in Heaven. Tell your boss when he or she evaluates you. Tell your employees when they thank you. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t hesitate. Speak it boldly with love. Your hard work has given you a voice with them. Don’t miss the opportunity!

Work hard but don’t forget to rest. God did! You need it. It creates rhythm in your life. It makes you appreciate more the value of rest. Lay your tools down and breathe. Put your computer away and let your mind wonder. Put up the paperwork and worship. Find rest emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. 

You spend a lot of time doing what you do. Don’t waste it on selfish pursuits. Don’t work yourself to death for things that you can’t take with you. What does God want to do in you at your job? Gain eternal perspective. Glorify Him in whatever you do!


Dax


Get Your Head Out Of The Sand

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.   Revelation 3:15-16

Complacency is your dire enemy. It’s the Darth Vader, Norman Bates and Wicked Witch of enemies all wrapped up into one fighting for your soul. You probably don’t give it much thought but it is the culprit behind much that hinders you spiritually, physically, and relationally. It lulls you into a false comfort that you are doing enough when really you are drifting slowly away from the safety of the shoreline, oblivious of the danger that you are in. It’s so easy to become complacent. It happens naturally to us.

Most of the time we are unaware that complacency is an issue. Until one day you are jolted awake by some sort of crisis. At that moment you gain a moment of perspective, realizing that you have been sleepwalking through life. That all those things you thought were “can’t live withouts” were really things that don’t satisfy or last.

Godliness, on the other hand, takes intentionality and sacrifice. You need to add these two words to your daily vocabulary. What are doing today that is intentional and sacrificial? If you can answer that with something then you are a step closer towards fighting complacency in your life.

Here are a few considerations to help you fight complacency:

  1. Willpower alone will not overcome complacency.
  2. You can’t think eternally in your daily life without Jesus.
  3. You need to consistently be confronted by God’s word to keep you from putting your guard down.
  4. You need to serve others in some capacity to remind you that it is not all about you.
  5. You need to start right now or you won’t do a thing about this issue

 

Complacency is the easy route but will leave you going through life unaware of what really matters. Godliness involves risking it all for something greater than yourself. Living for ourself is much easier but brings no joy to us.  Living for Christ costs us greatly but we gain everything. Let those who have ears to hear, hear and be set free from a life of complacency and indifference.