Thursday, April 26, 2012

Do Nothing

Mistreated? Looked over? Hurt? Left out? Talked about? Disrespected?

These are just a few words that describe how many of us have felt at times in life. Through these experiences, how many times have we begged God to get us away from it all? 
How…Why…What have we done to bring these moments on?

Inner Harbor - Fell's Point
(Baltimore, MD)
I just completed my 10,000th reading of Gene Edwards classic, The Tale of Three Kings. 
If you have not consumed this book, please do not hesitate to get a copy. It will take you no more than thirty minutes to read it, but it will take you a lifetime to get it.

The story speaks of the relationship between King Saul, King David, and David’s son Absalom. Without ruining the book, there was one principle that resonates throughout the reading.
David was sandwiched between these two individuals who both wanted to destroy him. One was a king – the other was his own flesh and blood. He was anointed by Samuel to be the leader of God’s people, yet he spent years doing nothing. After spending years leading God’s people, he decided once again to do nothing when his own son plotted to take the kingdom from him. When I use the word nothing, I don’t mean that he did not work, fight, and serve to fulfill his calling. He chose to do nothing when it came to responding to the arrows thrown at him physically (from Saul) and verbally (from Absalom).

David said, “I seek His will, not His power. I repeat, I desire His will more than I desire a position of leadership.
As He did with every encounter with Saul, David said, “…today, I shall give ample space for this untelling God of ours to show us His will. I know of no other way to bring about such an extraordinary event except by doing nothing! The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.” (Gene Edwards)

Bethesda Fountain - Central Park
(New York, NY)
When will we ever learn in our humanity that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto God – which (by the way) is only a reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
We often times want out from under the ‘arrows’ that are being thrown our direction, when the greatest decision we could ever make is to do nothing but endure. Experience it. 
Find joy in it. Let it build within us the character needed to lead.

There was a reason that David was described as a man after God’s own heart. 
Understand that he was not perfect, for David was a sinner too. Yet, David got it. 
He submitted his human desire of authority and control to the will of His Heavenly Father.

Do what you have to do to dodge the onslaught of whatever ‘arrows’ that are being hurled your way. But while dodging, refuse to become a Saul that would destroy the Absalom in your life. By doing nothing, what you are really saying: “if it is going to be done, it’s Gods to do.” 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Consumed with Comparison

A news report concerning an individual taking their own life is always one of the most heart wrenching things. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a coroner had concluded that famed guitarist Ronnie Montrose took his own life. He had played with the likes of Van Morrison and Herbie Hancock along with forming his own band in the 1970’s.

The saddest part of this 64-year-olds life was revealed in a statement by his wife, Leighsa Montrose. She said, “He was tormented by clinical depression for much of his life. This was brought on by self-doubt that caused him to harshly evaluate his performances, even when audiences were giving him multiple standing ovations.”

We so often find it hard to believe that amazing musicians, athletes, or entrepreneurs do not see what a gift they possess. There is no question that individuals are driven by not ever being satisfied – but there is a difference between being driven by dissatisfaction and being overcome by it.

(Forest Hill, MD)

Ronnie Montrose was an extreme case of being overcome by self-doubt to the point that it caused him to take his own life. Reading this tragic account of a life consumed by his inability to see his gift, has caused me to wonder how many individuals have destroyed ‘what could have been’ because of the very same thing.

One of the saddest things in life is when a person becomes consumed with comparison. You are unable to see the difference you are making. You cannot hear the handclaps of appreciation. And you are never able to feel the pats on the back for a job well done. These things mean nothing to you because you are so consumed in self’ish’ness. This selfishness overtakes selflessness because our thoughts focus on never being good enough. We live every breathing moment trying to be sure our world is pleased – instead of the Master of the world that is to come.

(Forest Hill, MD)

Scripture declares that God has already given to us everything we need to accomplish the work He has for us to do. How tragic not to enjoy life and appreciate the gifts and opportunities that He has placed in and around you. 

Allow a Godly confidence to replace our human comparison.

Philippians 1:6 - being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Controlling Destiny

There comes a point in the schedule for all athletic teams where it is said that they “control their own destiny.” According to their win/loss record within the division that they play, each team reaches a point where if they ‘win out’, then they control the opportunity to reach the playoffs and have home field advantage while doing so. These teams ‘earn’ this right through hard work and dedication to putting the team before personal gain.

It has been said of life that it is a lot like a game. Some days you win – Some days you lose. But what do we do about this word … destiny?

Do we ever really control it?

I have heard it mentioned in the presence of extraordinary people that they seemed ‘destined’ to achieve this level of greatness. While it does feel that way when we look upon the superstars of the athletic world – the timeless musicians who record hit after hit – and the writers who can paint a beautiful masterpiece with the printed word…we miss the journey of what it took to get there.

Camden Yards
(Baltimore, MD)
Quite possibly, this is not what you desire to hear: destiny was never ours to control to begin with. Scripture says that He formed me in my mother’s womb…He chose me and set me apart to do His work.
Speaking from human experience, it is no picnic allowing others to be in control of anything we do. As a child, we just go along with what our parents say because we have not ‘learned’ any better as of yet. Then the teenage years show up and all of a sudden we get so much smarter than mom and dad. We begin to crave control so that we can do what we want when we want to do it.
While God did choose us…He places the decision squarely in our hands as to whether or not we choose His way to get there.
He chose David to be King…He went so far as to have him anointed while he was only a shepherd boy…but David wasn’t prepared yet. He killed a lion – He killed a bear – and He killed a giant named Goliath that was threatening the armies of the Lord…but he would not stoop to take control of his destiny by destroying the cross he had to bear.

You see, King Saul ended up being David’s cross. King Saul was head and shoulders above other men. His physic – His looks – His charm…
If anyone was destined for greatness, it had to have been Saul. He was so gifted; He won so much that he eventually felt that he could finally take control. He seized his destiny so strongly that it led him to consulting with a witch and numerous attempts at taking the life of David. 
The ultimate cost was his death at the hands of an Amalekite.

The quickest way toward destruction is seizing control. 
But the path to greatness has a cross with your name on it. Don’t destroy it. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good for you...Bubba Watson

You simply cannot love sports and not be completely captivated by what takes place during the first week of April. Also, it serves as the week of my birthday…so that doesn’t hurt anything either.
But what a great sports week it is: The National Championship for Men/Women NCAA Basketball. Opening Day of Major League Baseball. It also sets the stage for ‘a tradition unlike any other…The Masters.’  

(Forest Hill, MD)
The Masters concluded yesterday (Easter Sunday) with a two-hole playoff between 
Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen. While both players stared down enormous pressure, Bubba Watson pulled off one of the most incredible shots in Masters history. On the second playoff hole (No. 10), Bubba’s tee shot found the woods to the right. (One of my buddies told me that this is why he watched yesterday: A guy named ‘Bubba’ was hitting golf balls out of the bushes. J
Bubba did the impossible and hooked his shot out of the trees and onto the green just some ten feet from the flagstick. He then was able to make par and win his first green jacket.

He said a lot in his post match interview that touched many…but I loved what he said when asked: “Bubba, what was going through your mind as you walked up to the ball on that last playoff hole? It was surrounded by trees and lying on pine needles that had been trampled by spectators all weekend. What were you thinking about?”

Bubba simply replied: “My whole life I’ve known, If I have a swing – I have a shot.”

Bubba proved the power of belief. He proved (through golf) what can happen if you only picture the shot in your mind ahead of time. He dreamed his shot – then hit it.

Hamburg St.
(Baltimore, MD)
How many are facing obstacles, in the present, that have caused you to feel like it was over? At some point, every individual has been told that you no longer have a shot to accomplish your dream. I can only imagine how easy it would have been for Bubba to give up hope on No. 10. Don’t forget, he is the one who hit the ball among the trees in the first place. 

(Courtesy: WRBCTV)
Maybe your marriage has been driven into a place where you simply see no shot.
Possibly you’re traveling a path of dreams that have been trampled down by those around you who don’t believe.
You might even look at your current surroundings and be overwhelmed by what you see.
But if you can swing – then you have shot. 
The most important thing is to never lose sight of your shot. This journey is going to take you to places that test your mettle. But if you will keep swinging, then you can say the words uttered by our newly crowned Masters Champion: “I don’t know how to put into words the way I feel. I never got this far in my dreams.”

Good for you Bubba Watson – What a thrill to see one of the good guys get it done! Keep swinging…