Five Random Things We Need To Quit Saying


Have you ever had one of those moments when you wish you could take back a statement or comment that just flew out of your mouth. You know it was taken wrongly or will be or it hurt someone unfairly and needlessly? Yep, most of us have done that. It’s a bad feeling and we can’t rewind the incident and get a do-over.

But there are things that people regularly say , ideas many think it’s alright to verbalize and have no qualms about it. In some cases they’re not that harmful words but they’re plain wrong. In other cases there may be an element of truth to them but they lack sensitivity, care and concern. And if we’ll consider them now, maybe we’ll avoid them in the future and not wish we had the moment to re-live.

See what you think:

  1. Everything’s going to be alright. So often we want to reduce fear or angst and help someone face a difficult moment but there’s one thing that we can’t guarantee: that everything will turn out okay. It might, we can pray for that and life will go on but it may not end the way we hoped.
  2. I went through the same thing as you are. Again, we mean well wanting to let a person or family know that we understand their situation but there are two problems. First, their situation and ours will never be exactly the same. And two, what we’re really implying is that they then should be alright in the moment or at least better than they are. “I made it so why can’t you,” is the unintended message.
  3. You deserve to be happy.  I agree that happiness is a good goal and it’s even part of the language of our founding documents as most of us know. But happiness typically doesn’t trump doing the right thing, staying in a relationship for the long haul or  avoiding some new way to dull pain. Happy may have to wait. Happiness for us has never been God’s first priority anyway. It’s fulfillment.
  4. You can do anything you put your mind to. The response to this one is easy: NO YOU CAN’T!!  I would love to fly jets, I’m a wannabe pilot. But even if I were to put my aging mind to it and dream big, at sixty-six that’s not a given and probably won’t happen. Neither can I become a surgeon, mountain guide in the Himalayas or NASCAR driver just because I believe I can. The better encouragement is to tell people they still matter and can be significant no matter their age or circumstances.
  5. The big man upstairs. While I can never know the heart or intent of another person, I’m confident that most of the time when people talk about God in these terms they really don’t know or understand Him. They probably believe one of a short list of ideas: God isn’t really real, God is just some nice grandpa in the sky somewhere, God will sometimes bail me out when I need Him but I won’t connect with Him otherwise, God isn’t the King of Kings and Lord of the Universe, the creator of all things.

I’ve written often that words matter. They are a window or radiation of what’s in our soul, mind and spirit. They can also represent some concepts that we would be wise to re-visit and re-think so that we can enjoy truth in all its forms and let it change us and our relationships with others.

Become a deeper thinker, person, friend, Christ followerwords and relative by considering your words and maybe just dropping a few phrases that you really don’t need or want to need anymore!


Three Leadership Errors Your Church May Need To Fix


Pastor Ryan loves leading his mid-sized church. The people show up faithfully, the income is stable and the activities seem to be what the attenders want. The church isn’t growing a lot, bit they’re not going backwards either.

If you were to compare them with many of the other established churches in the area, they would be better known for their innovative ideas and ample programs for both youth and adults.

The staff at Stone Pointe, a local mega-church, feels equally good about ministry there. They have dozens of staff, led by men and women who either had experience in the business world or seminary training. The team seems to be a solid mix of young talent with a few older staff around to keep things on track.

Their services have polish, energy and technology that other smaller churches do not enjoy and seem to offer many thematic, practical messages that relate to today’s individuals and families. There’s been some talk in town about SP pulling people from the smaller fellowships, but nobody is making a big deal about it.

And down the street there is Westside Church, a small congregation of less than a hundred, that was established nearly one hundred years ago. Denominationally – driven, the smaller crowd is generally elderly, but some younger couples have come because they like the size, family-atmosphere and traditional leanings of the music and teaching.

Pastor Ralph has been there now for almost thirty years and people love him.

Three churches, three styles, three sizes. Some would look at these brief descriptions and begin to discuss which church is more impacting, prevailing or successful. But while each church varies significantly, it would be foolish to suggest that anything like size, resources, age or style can determine the overall health of each church.

Even an apparently healthy body can be riddled with tumors that may eventually kill. Churches can appear healthy outwardly but be slowly dying or at best stagnant or rotting in ways that will eventually destroy it or cause serious injury.

Church leaders often err by overlooking or being ignorant about the importance of several key concepts. Let me suggest three.

  1. They don’t provide clarity about their mission, vision and values. Yes, many churches have statements that address these items perhaps using different terms. But how they describe each one will often have several problems:

The ideas are too vague. The wording sounds biblical, spiritual and may even be memorable but if the people are honest, they don’t know what it really means from week to week and year to year. There’s nothing in the descriptions that is measurable. If any component can be more general, it’s the mission. But vision must be clearer and values (how you carry it out) should be very specific.

The ideas are described in old terms. Churches would be wise to spend less time hanging on to old ideas or being clever and instead try to make their statements of purpose as contemporary and relevant as possible.

  1. They develop all sorts of excuses for why they don’t need to teach Scripture in practical ways. “We believe in expository, verse by verse teaching.” “Our pastor teaches the whole counsel of God.” (He or she actually does not unless they’ve taught through the whole Bible.) “We expect pastor to feed us and we want to go deep.”

It doesn’t matter what style you use or prefer, the pastor hasn’t taught if the people haven’t learned. Scripture itself teaches that we’re to not just be hearers but doers of the Word. If anything pastors need to spend more time helping people learn to eat the word themselves and not spoon-feed them everything.

  1. They don’t provide many opportunities for the people of the church to serve. Serving is limited to handing out programs (which is an okay thing), but there is little promotion of people serving outside the church or in creative ways that go beyond the usual church responsibility limitations.

Healthy leaders encourage serving in the community, their neighborhoods, through the schools and in missions. They want their church to be the church all week long and send the message that the Big Event isn’t what happens on weekends. Instead it’s merely family time for the church to help them live for Jesus all week long.

How’s your church doing? If you’re a pastor or other leader, has the leadership of your church developed clear direction and statements of mission, vision and values? Would you and the people know after a year whether you’ve reached those goals and carried out your vision?

Is Scripture being adequately taught and applied? Is the idea of serving others a high value for your church? It’s one thing to have a nice church. It’s way different to have a healthy one.






Orlando: A Tragic Picture of Life’s Contrasts


Orlando.jpgThere have been all sorts of reactions. Here we go again. Why didn’t the President . . . How come people have these guns? Guns aren’t the real problem. Did this happen because of the gay bar?

I’m sure the conversations, questions and answers will continue for  months, maybe years.

However, let me give one other perspective that may get ignored or missed. It’s what I’ll call the Orlando Contrast. We all know that Disney is the home of the Happiest Place on Earth – Disney World. Of course that  involves all the satellite properties and attractions that are also under the Disney umbrella.

But this doesn’t include the other myriad Orlando amusements and tourist magnets that were there before Disney flew into town decades ago or have chosen to hitchhike on their successes since.

Let’s face it. Orlando is a fun, exciting and attractive place to be. The name of the city exudes enjoyment though those who live there certainly know it’s not totally that way. And today, a terrorist tragically added to that reality. Like life, Orlando isn’t always fun, magical and a place to play.

It too can be the home of evil, terror and madness. Life there is not always a party or celebration.

And that’s a lot like life. And while I don’t wish tragedy on any of us, we need to remember that we need to be ready for hardship, tragedy and challenge. We must be growing our inner character, strength and faith so that when we face a mountain  or chilly rapids in life, we’ll be somewhat ready and not standing around in our party hats and fun clothes.

So many people today, however, seem to think life is just one big party and if they face struggles, they will simply try to dull the pain with more noise, entertainment, alcohol, spending or addiction.

This tragedy, like most, is sad, heartbreaking and infuriating. There will be many more discussions about how to prevent the next one. Most of us will not be a part of those talks but we can remember an important lesson from this one. Life is not magical all the time. And it doesn’t have to be. We can be more ready for the hard times. We can learn from our challenges. And we’ll get stronger and better plus see the greatness of our God in the process.

Run Marathons, Not Sprints In Life


I’ve never run an official athletic marathon. I can’t run 26 blocks much less 26 – plus miles. I have great admiration, however, for those who do. The training, discipline and consistency required are at a level only a small handful of people will reach.

Add to that those who do triathlons, the biggest ones adding 2 miles of swimming and a 100+ mile bike ride to the run, you have to wonder that anyone does them.

But there are marathons that need to be run every day, ones that have perhaps greater challenges and certainly more important outcomes if we’re willing to keep going. I’m talking about personal, life marathons that seem to be less evident in our culture today.

For example, staying in a marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. My wife and I celebrate our fortieth anniversary this month. I was telling someone about that the other day and the woman’s immediate response was, “You don’t see that much anymore.”  Sadly, she is probably right.

People seem to think that many commitments that used to be extended ones can now be substituted with a well-intended, sincere sprint and when they’re done, they’re done. Athletes, parents, executives, even friends are much more okay today with not making much of a commitment to anyone or anything.

They use the excuse that I’m just not happy anymore or I deserve to be happy so that becomes their excuse to quit the race that they’re in. A little more money, some extra happiness, a few less problems or whatever can easily move them to a different commitment often leaving family, fans and friends in their wake of relationships.

I want to suggest that we need to model again and re-teach the idea that commitment, especially in relationships, is a long road and is worth staying on it to the end. In our throw away, change-the-channel culture we would be wise to model once more that we don’t need to give up when things get hard and that we can get up when we fall down.

Will you join me and stay in your marathon whatever it is?  It will be worth it and the prize at the end is invaluable, sometimes eternal.