My heart breaks for America. We seem to have lost the ability to hear the other side of an argument. We are so concerned with being right in our country that we have lost sight of the fact we might be wrong. Or that the other person might have a valid point.
Christians are some of the worst offenders. We are so determined to be ‘right’ in the name of Jesus, that we forget there is another human being on the receiving end of our position.
We protest abortion clinics but don’t love the woman who is hurting inside. We think out politician is right and the others are from the devil. That God must prevail because we are right and the other side are sinners. God will show them…
Give me a break.
Would a loving father really choose sides between two sons? Let’s say you are the father of Obama and Huckabee. Your sons are both running for President of the United States. Do you really think you as a father would choose sides? Sheesh, they are both your sons. Only a mean spirited, judgmental, wrathful father would choose sides.
A loving father would love them both and give them both wise counsel.
Paul writes that “He is bankrupt without love…. it never forces itself on others, Isn’t always ‘me first,… doesn’t revel when others grovel.”
Why then do we are Christians take inside pleasure when others who oppose our positions lose. Secretly we cheer when abortion takes another hit towards being illegal or same sex marriage gets shot down in California.
Christians should be leading the charge to love and not hurt. We shouldn’t be pushing a message of “I’m right and your are wrong.” We should be crossing the street to put an arm around the woman who just had an abortion. We should go knock on the door of a gay neighbor and invite em over for dinner. (And NOT invite them to church or draw out the four spiritual laws.)
We need to stop sharing that God is pouring out his wrath on America because we moved away from the Gold standard in 1930 and now have fiat money. How in the heck does that help push forward the teaching of Jesus?
People, if we don’t love unconditionally, who will?
This has been hammered home over the past two weeks for me watching the events in Wisconsin unfold. I come from a Union family. My family is highly politically active, specifically in the Democratic party. Born in the suburbs of Chicago, my father did legal work for the unions. My uncle was a Chicago Cop. My brother is a union plumber and my sister works as a professor in the University of Wisconsin system.
For the record, I don’t believe in unions. I think they served a purpose 75 years ago, but now they are causing America to slip. That is my opinion based on my reading, research, etc. Personally, I think what Gov. Walker is doing in Wisconsin is heroic. He is standing up to a bully, the unions. I watch the events daily in Wisconsin and secretly want Gov Walker to ‘give it to the unions and break em.’
However, on the flip side, my sister is in a tremendous amount of pain. She is going to experience a 30% reduction in her pay and compensation. What she has worked for her entire life, to be a college professor with tenure is being taken away. My heart breaks for my sister. I understand why she is in so much pain and so vocal on the subject. Can you see my conundrum?
If I am a judgmental Christian, I would take an approach that my God is going to vindicate me! “If God is for us, who can be against us” mentality. Folks this is a win/lose/ruin a relationship approach.
My sister and I have had a few harsh words on this subject. Shoving article on each other to prove our individual points. Joined upon by my other sister and one brother in defense of the unions. In the end, instead of fanning the flames, I’ve decided that love is stronger than proving I’m right. That “caring for others, more than self” won’t win me any accolades on TV, it won’t make my readership increase nor will it get me invited to the latest Christian conference as a speaker.
My approach now? Well, I still want to prove my point, but not in a forceful way. Not by imposing my will upon my sister. I’ve decided that to love her unconditionally in her pain, that is very real and difficult to understand. For I am not in her shoes. She has a right in America to speak her position, post articles supporting her point, to protest and be upset.
I, as a follower of Jesus (no longer saying I’m a Christian) have free will to choose to love her unconditionally. To not keep score, cheer when others grovel and never giving up.
Those were the words uttered to me by my wife this morning as she was walking out the door. Her words of encouragement to me in a difficult morning.
You see, last night I got ‘fired’ from a volunteer organization. It appears that many of the parents didn’t like my ‘style’. They felt I was unapproachable, difficult, opinionated and not receptive.
All of that is true, I recognize it and don’t deny it one iota.
I am that way in business as well. With clients, staff members and even with Bob. I have been known to tell them the truth. Some like it, other don’t.
Take my business partnership with Bob. I’ve been known to spout off. I am sure I’ve pissed him off many times, with my crap. But to Bob’s credit he lets me be me. He let’s me spout off, get pissed off and be me. He doesn’t try to fix me. He gently guides me or coaches me in particular spots.
Bob exhibits a community of grace with me. As a friend, a business partner and a buddy. (So does my wife Sarah as well… for the record.)
What I experienced last night was a community of legalism. A group of parents, upset with me, went behind my back and talked to the leader to have me removed. An ‘us or him’ ultimatum. It was an easy decision for me. I stepped down. Not because they were right, because, I don’t want that kind of grief in my life. I have reached a point at the age of 43, that I no longer want to be around or associated with groups of people who won’t love me in the process I’m in.
That sounds a bit humanistic. “Love me as I am.” But the reality of this grace, communities of grace, allows people to flush out the process they are experiencing. People like my wife, Bob, my buddy Gunnar, Victor and others, allow me to be in that process.
They see me as I am and not as they want me to be. And they love me anyway.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a bit of a hot head. Opinionated, who tells people what I think and I don’t care if they like it or not. I know it’s not socially acceptable and that it needs to change. But instead of looking at all my short comings, or how far short I am of being the ‘Christian’ I’m supposed to be. Jesus puts his arm around me and shows me how far I’ve come with him at my side. He doesn’t point out everything I still have to do. He accepts me as he made me. Loves me in the process and allows me to come to him when I’m good and ready to work on the stuff.
Because everyone has something to work on.
This is the final installment of a 3-part story. I hope you’ve enjoyed my Year Of Being Reborn series.
The following is an unedited message I wrote to my staff on July 20, 2010. It was written after a very vivid experience in my office one afternoon. I hope you find encouragement in this. It describes a moment in my office with Papa, and what I can only describe as a prophetic flow as I describe the future of the business to my staff…
This might be heavy. I want you to know I’m sober, hopefully, happy, and peaceful as I write this. I need to share with you what God has been saying to me this week. (Yes, I hear God. No, he does not sound like George Burns or the actor in the Ten Commandments movies. It’s a still small voice that comes when I sit still or when I run. It’s not audible, it’s like a thought, except I know it’s not mine. It’s available to anyone who believes they can hear it. It also comes in dreams and other amazing ways I won’t get into. But I didn’t hear him like this until I went through “the episode” last fall. Everything changed for me on September 28).
So at the risk of freaking you out, but fully trusting you guys to see this with me, here it goes….
Remember when the Israelites were pinned between the Red Sea and the armies of Egypt? God impressed that picture on me today.
The Israelites had 4 choices:
#1 Swim – Only a small percentage of people would make it, the rest would die, and they’d lose all their stuff. Not a good plan.
#2 Fight – None of the Israelites were trained to battle. Bad idea. The men would have been slaughtered and the women and children and their stuff would have been dragged back to Egypt
#3 Surrender – Give up and go back to Egypt, I’m guessing the work would have been exponentially tough and they would have been beaten daily, never to leave again. Not good.
#4 Trust – I don’t know if any Israelite saw this as an option, even given the butt-kicking God put on the Egyptians to get them out. Moses turned to the sea and lifted out his arms to the sea, and God held back the army and drew back the sea for them. God purposely led them to a dead end so he could demonstrate his power to the people of Israel and to the people of the world (I bet this story got a lot of play for generations).
You all might think I’m nuts, but I firmly believe that God is doing and preparing something so amazing, that he’s led us to a dead end, just to show us his power. What he has planned for us in the future is so big, we could not do it on our own. Therefore, we need to learn TRUST before he can allow this to manifest.
Isn’t it actually laughable how much has gone wrong in this past year, and just in the past month? We had to laugh today at the sheer number of vendors and situations that just simply vanish into thin air. It’s really amazing. Unless Matt and I have totally forgotten everything we learned about business and marketing, there cannot be another explanation. Yes, I know it’s tough out there for many, many people, but I think he’s using that as well to allow us the joy of trials to firm our foundation. And don’t give me any lines about the devil. Don’t even go there. He’s been defeated, all he’s got is deception.
I’m going to do something totally out of my character and something I have failed to do for 16 months. Wait and Trust. For the first time really since we started to hit financial issues in March of 2009, I’m totally at peace with what’s happening here. It’s totally against what any guru would tell you, but I am going to stop striving to make this work. In Jesus sermon, he says, “Blessed are you when you are at the end of your rope”. We’re not out of clients or opportunity, but we’re running on E and the gas station is nowhere in sight – yet, I am totally believing that’s where God wants us and is just waiting for us to get off the treadmill and wait for him. If you look at my schedule, God isn’t even allowing me enough time in my day to worry about business. It’s funny. I’m busy taking care of the kids and the house. I have to be very creative to find large chunks of time to concentrate.
The fact that we are still in business after everything is a miracle.
The fact that Matt and I are going through this without any major conflicts between us is a miracle. We should be arguing daily about the struggles, but we don’t.
No one has prayed longer and harder for things to turn around. But God showed me today that my prayers are AGAINST what he’s preparing for us. I failed to seek his heart about everything, and simply asked for rescue and “to go back to Egypt” (the way things were). He told me that he wouldn’t allow it. It’s not part of the destiny. Stop praying for me to rescue the business and figure it out, and start praying for the future to manifest according to his plan. Starting praying for peace in the process so that I can endure and understand. Rescue is not a prayer he intends to answer, but reinvention and restoration is a prayer he’s in the middle of answering.
God has assured me that his hand in on this business. That does not translate into profits, in case I need to remind you But what it means is, is that he is controlling the situation, and arranging things according to what’s best for each one of us and for those we will touch in the future. This business has a destiny, and so does each of us. I don’t know the specifics, but God is starting to show things, and it not only is amazing, it totally explains years of experiences and trials I’ve endured to be ready for it. He’s got a tremendous call for this business that is so unlike anything you would expect, it has to be hidden and refined to make it ready. It’s about restoration and revival of people and ideas, and it’s going to capture the hearts of thousands. Money will not be the goal of the business, but money will come and it will be in abundance so much that it will pay off the debts of the business and restore the personal accounts that have been depleted over the past few years.
It will be wildly successful, but it will not define us. It will be defined for how we restore and revive people and ideas, and for how much affect this has on those that work in it. It’s going to be something that churches have been called to do, but never figured out. It will at times seem like ministry, and other times be just business. It will be so unique that people will flock to it and really not understand it, except for what it does for them. People will find their purpose and rediscover what was lost. This is not fluffy life coach stuff, this is real – solid advice and solid strategies to turn a life around and the business as well.
Here’s the cool thing – I don’t think he’s going to just show me, or just show Matt what this is. He’s going to also show you guys things that you will bring forward to enhance the mosaic that’s being built. So start asking God to show you this, and bring forward what’s on your heart. And even if he tells you your season here is over, don’t worry, it’s part of the plan. But if he shows you something and you see it as part of this business, bring it forward.
It’s very key for us in this time to stay positive, stay hopeful, and find joy. I can’t stress that enough. When we fret, worry, strive, or try to do this on our own power, it will derail us. We must not fear. Fear will suck us into places that are difficult to escape from. It’s got to be about staying in the place of TRUST even when the army is bearing down and the sea is so close our sandals are wet. Even then, the best option is to trust.
I hope this encourages you more than it freaks you out, but I’m just sharing what I am hearing and seeing. it’s clearer to me than looking out the windows here. It will be great, and I’m going to accept and enjoy the process until we get there.
After writing this note, I called Matt and explained to him that I was absolutely sure that there was going to be something big happening the very next week. It seemed perfect, because both Matt and our PM Justin were out of town. I was absolutely sure something was going to happen the next week.
Here’s what happened just 8 days later, on July 28 (You see how Daddy keeps doing things on the 28th for me? Strange, huh?)…
I was having an awesome phone conversation with my friend, Jim Robbins. Jim and I were talking about a number of things, but mostly focusing on some really frustrating things happening in our lives and businesses. We both had opportunity to encourage each other and that is why it’s awesome to have Kingdom friends. They reveal Father’s heart to you.
After we hung up, I checked email, and Matt and I received a message from a former client that we completed work for in 2008. I am going to call him J. Matt kept tabs with J since then. J decided to take a copywriting position with a very prestigious and well-known information publishing firm (a firm that does a solid 9 figures in revenue and one we’ve always studied and admired as a model info-business.) In this email, J revealed that he introduced a marketing strategy Matt and I had been using for our clients to his boss. They liked the idea and began using it. Turns out that this little strategy we showed J made his new firm several million dollars!
Needless to say, this firm was ecstatic. So much so, that J’s boss wanted to speak to us, and hire us to come in and work with them to develop more strategies.
Within 14 days of this call from J, Matt and I had a signed contract from a firm that we had only dreamed of working with, had never sent a single piece of marketing to, and had to do absolutely no “selling” to come to an agreement on a contract.
Now, what does that say about Daddy? He reveals to me that he wants to show me his power, and that I am to sit and wait for him to do it. 8 days later we hear from J who we worked with 2 years prior and is getting us connected to a firm we absolutely would have died to work with. One in which we had to do no marketing, no selling, and no negotiation.
This is the Daddy we have. He loves to do things for his kids. Did I do anything to receive this gift? No. I was not fasting. I was not naming and claiming it. All I did was come to the throne room as a broken, humble child, asking my Daddy for help. He chose to do this, and his requirement was to wait. I cannot believe he acted so quickly, and acted with such extravagance. All we can do is humbly thank him, and go work on this project with all our gusto.
So 2 days ago, I was sitting in the amazing boardroom of this client, celebrating a high point which a year ago was a low point. It just so happens September 28 was a perfect day for this client to meet. (Of course it was J )
Let me tell you. It was a phenomenal day. We did great work together and put together an amazing plan with this client. I am loving what Daddy is doing, and can’t wait to see what else he has planned.
I hope this story reminds me to not strive in the future. I hope I remember that my Daddy loves to work for me, and it’s not even work at all to him. If I just rest in what he’s doing and run where he’s made a path, I will find abundant joy.
I hope you’ve been inspired by my story, because I am. It’s not boasting because I have nothing to do with it. I cannot believe what my year has been like, and I just know the years ahead will be full of joy as I walk out my life with Father.
While this is the end of this series, the story is still unfolding…and certainly, to be continued.