I Don’t 

I was conversing with a friend today, and we were discussing things to which we should have said no. This began a series of thoughts in my head about times when we should say no or “I don’t/won’t”, etc. 

As we get older, we begin to think about dating and related subjects. For me personally, I thought about it all through middle and high school but was afraid of rejection. I finally got up the courage to ask out someone in college who later became my wife of 14 years. She is the mother of my children, but there were plenty of signs that told me I should have said “I don’t.” For practicality sake, I will give some general principles for when you should say “I don’t” rather than “I do”.

1. Hormones are never a good reason to say “I do”. Even if you have given yourself to that person, there are good reasons to say “I don’t.” I know the “try before you buy” philosophy is popular, but get some guts and say “I don’t”.

2. Differences in religion are a good reason to say “I don’t”. Let me say that I know several couples who got married when one was a Christian and the other wasn’t. The unbeliever did give his/her heart to Christ, but this isn’t a general rule. People of different Christian denominations tend to experience tension. If you can’t stand it, you might want to say “I don’t”.

3. Different career paths may be a good reason to say “I don’t”. If one does not support the other, move on and spare yourself the drama.

There is so much more I could say. I hope to go deeper in another blog. To be continued…

Pet Peeve: Old-Fashioned Religion

I know that some of you are immediately saying “Amen” or you’re ready to blast me. I’ve been a pastor, so I’m used to both. Please allow me to explain these terms and then arrive to your own conclusion, expressing it in a Christ-like manner.

Religion can be just about anything: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. I NEVER want to be labeled religious. I don’t dabble in a bunch of religions. I follow the teachings set forth in the Bible. Christ is my Savior, and I am unashamed.

Now to this “old-fashioned” part. In reference to Christianity, it bears a negative connotation. For church folks who want church like it was 100 years ago, this is fine. For the unchurched, they see the phrase “old-fashioned” and think it’s outdated or obsolete.

My problem with Christianity being called “old time religion” is that Christianity is just as relevant today as it was in the first century church. I know churches are trying to communicate that they don’t sing any new songs, have screens on their walls, and use a specific version of the Bible. If that is what you do, that is fine. But please don’t call it “old time religion”. 

I must continue with one more thing. The song “Old Time Religion” is poor theology. It doesn’t matter if it was good enough for your mother, father, favorite preacher, or fill in the blank. What matters is that God set the standard! There are many snuff-dipping grannies and moonshine-drinking pappies who were satisfied with “old time religion”. Let’s do away with the phrase “old time religion” and get to “Bible-based Christianity”!

Managing Volunteers


Recently, I took over the position of volunteer coordinator in addition to my role as chaplain. As a pastor and church staff member, I have been managing volunteers for years. There is always the excitement of having a new volunteer on board whether it is a musician, teacher, or whatever area of giftedness this person possesses. In reflecting on this subject, I have found that many people don’t know how to treat volunteers. I want to suggest some things to consider when dealing with volunteers.

1. They are volunteers!!!!!!! They don’t have to do what they do. They choose to do it and want to use their abilities. They are not your hired hands. Yes, they should be teachable and desire to do their best. Nonetheless, you have no reason to treat them like dirt because you’re on a power trip.

2. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. This is referred to as the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you (I’ll let you in on a little secret. Jesus said this. Your wise grandma only repeated it😀).

3. Value their work! Show them they are appreciated! Thank them constantly! When you boost them, they will perform better. Throw the unrealistic expectations out the window. 

4. Show them that you care about them as people not just performers of tasks! If your volunteers feel like commodities, they’ll find appreciation somewhere else or remain with you and underperform because you depress and oppress them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Many of these rules apply in paid situations also. I can honestly say I was the most miserable where my boss never voiced appreciation for my work. I had to remind myself daily that it was for the Lord because the ceiling would cave in if I got a compliment from my boss.

Make every person feel like a valuable member of the team! As a hospice chaplain, I have to understand team dynamics. I’m blessed with great coworkers who have fun and get the job done. But they also possess the compassion and qualities necessary to perform their tasks. 

Is morale low where you work or serve? These thoughts just might help change your atmosphere. I can promise you that it won’t hurt.

When Preachers Weren’t Celebrities

Early this morning, I was called out to the family of a loved one who just passed away. Tons of family members were present as they awaited the funeral home to arrive. I knew this man had been a pastor for nearly 48 years, but I didn’t know the lengths he went to preach God’s Word. The family shared with me that he would walk for 3 hours (in another country) to get to where he would preach. Here in the US, he was known to walk a good distance also. 

He was never a mega church pastor. He never made a lot of money. He was not the recipients of man’s applause, but I would safely assume he received a big welcome home when he left his sick body to enter into the presence of His Savior.

We so easily build our kingdoms (or attempt it). We want people to be impressed with our accomplishments. We want to be liked. The list about us goes on and on.

But there is a greater kingdom. It is God’s. He is not concerned about the monument you built unto yourself. Money, crowds, and accolades do not matter to Him. He wants your obedience, even if you never receive your reward on earth. Even if you don’t make much money. Even if you may die for your faith. 

What do you want more: popularity or the joy of knowing you honored the Lord? You can choose. One will fade, and the other will last forever.

Praying for Your Judas


We all have someone who has betrayed us. It may be a coworker, spouse, parent, sibling, “best friend”, etc. It is interesting that the one who betrayed Jesus was hand-picked by Jesus to be one of the twelve. It is also interesting that the betrayer was Jesus’ treasurer. In certain churches, I have learned to watch out for church treasurers. Anyway… Jesus chose Judas, knowing well that Judas would be the betrayer who would lead to His death. Jesus also knew that His death and resurrection would be the only way to provide salvation and forgiveness to all who will place their faith and trust in Him.

So what do we do with the Judases of our life? Hold a grudge? Remain bitter? Neither option is helpful. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. Getting started hurts. I mean I would rather make myself throw up than do that. Over time, God changes my heart.

Who is your Judas? Are you ignoring the bitterness? Quit it! You will be in bondage to the bitterness until you follow the formula of Jesus in Matthew 5:44. Find the release that comes from praying for those who hate you and betray you. You will come out being the bigger person.

That’s Just the Way It Is

When I was younger, I can remember people with tenacity who would not accept the decline of America. They did not sit idly by and accept everything wrong thing that came along. They stood up and spoke up against the evils of the day. Now we are saying, “That’s just the way it is.” It was a great Bruce Hornsby song, but it’s horrible ideology.

Since when should this generation accept what is? There are bold people pushing for certain wrongs to become right. Why not still have some people who say, “I’m not going to accept the way it is” and do something about it. I know there are bold men and women who still exist. It’s time for this generation to be heard when it comes to righteousness and truth.

This isn’t a Christian song, but the lyrics are great. Listen carefully and maybe enjoy.

Whatever Makes You Happy? Really?


Happiness seems to be the goal of most people yet they never achieve it. They climb the ladder of success and are still empty. They marry good looking people and are still empty. They party, buy themselves nice things, do whatever they want, yet they aren’t satisfied. How could this be if everyone is telling us that life is all about happiness?

Well, someone got the purpose of life screwed up along the way. Sheryl Crow sang, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If it makes you happy, then why…are you so sad?” Things can’t buy you happiness. Money can’t! Human relationships can’t! Only Jesus can!

John 10:10 said that Jesus is the One who came to give life to the fullest, but people view Him as a killjoy because of His loving rules of protection. He has your best interest at heart. You think that you can sleep around and have fun. Jesus knows what it does to you emotionally. You run from man to man or woman to woman and can’t be satisfied. You’re barking up the wrong tree. Jesus is your life! Look nowhere else but to Him!

If you want to waste your time living for yourself, go right ahead! If you want fulfillment – lasting fulfillment – then live out God’s plan for your life. You won’t regret a moment lived for the One who gave His life for you.

That Wasn’t So Bad, Was It?

Most of us tend to get ourselves hyped up over things we have never experienced. Maybe it’s a colonoscopy, prostate exam, dental work, or even major surgery. Afterward, someone may ask if it was as bad as you thought.

The same can be true when we compare things to the way they are now. Some people take a new job with the thoughts that the “grass will be greener on the other side”, only to discover that where they came from wasn’t so bad. That horrible boss wasn’t so bad. That ex spouse wasn’t so bad. That pastor wasn’t so bad. You get the point.

So many of us waste our lives looking for a better future when what we have now is a wonderful blessing. Stop anticipating your kids being grown because you’ll look back and wish you had that time. Savor every moment. Enjoy the season in which God has planted you, so you can look back with no regrets. 

Change


I have often heard that the only people who like change are babies. Interestingly enough, the ones who hate change also act like babies. Nevertheless, change is inevitable. We cannot escape it.

Change isn’t a bad thing. A person is changed when Jesus Christ becomes the Lord of someone’s life. The Christian life is one change after another as we become more like Christ.

Apart from Christ, life has its own changes: infancy, toddlerhood, changes as one is promoted each year in school, physical changes, college, career, and the list goes on.

Somehow, we reach adulthood and resist it. I used to love moving from church to church, place to place, etc. Now I long for stability, but I know that more changes are ahead. My kids will grow up. My marriage will go through the regular seasons. People from work will come and go.

What do we do with change? We embrace it. I am not saying we sit back idly when the change is evil. When it is God-ordained, you have to trust that God is in control of it whether we like it or not. Within that change is a growth opportunity. God has a new work He wants to do in us. 

Every day, there seems to be a new change. My job is to wake up and report for duty. I am at God’s disposal. So during this season of change, my prayer is that my faith and obedience will increase and that I will be found faithful.

“Christianese”

Church culture has no consideration for those outside the church when we speak. We use the craziest words and phrases. I’m all about being different in some ways as a Christian, but there is a line to be drawn somewhere.

Twenty-first century people are not as churches as those of the previous century. I have seen a major shift in the last few decades. Let me share a few examples.

1. The words “saved”, “born again”, and similar phrases need more explanation than previously. 

2. “We had some real good fellowship at the church last night.” Most unchurched people don’t have a clue what fellowship is.

3. When you call someone brother or sister, I’m sure they’re not saying what they’re really thinking. “You ain’t my brother.” (I’ve thought that about a few people within churches who proclaim to be Christians.)

There are so many other phrases that church people that I question if they mean like “glad to see you”, “let me know if I can do anything for you”, or “I’ll be praying for you”. Church people know the right things to say, but please mean it! Your sincerity or lack thereof could be the only impression of Christianity they have. Make it a good one!