It is a question we ask all the time. If God is for us, why do I feel so defeated? We live in a world that really wants to condemn you and convict you for any number of things. Yet, in Christ, we discover freedom from all the condemnation that the world and Satan can throw at you. Discover the 4 pillars of our faith that gives you victory over the world’s condemnation.
We ask a lot of “IF” questions in our lives. Many of those questions are simple and, at the end of the day, hold little importance. However, there are some “IF” questions we ask that hold eternal significance in our lives. This week we ask, “If God is for us, why do we suffer?” It is probably a question you have asked yourself at some point in time…but today, we begin to see how Easter changes how we ask that question.
Every single day we come across forks in the road of our spiritual journey. And at every single fork in the road, we have a choice to make. Will we follow God’s will? Or, will we choose another path? No matter where you are in your relationship with Christ…even if you have yet to make a decision about Him at all…you need to know the importance of the forks in the road.
The Bible says a great deal about love and how we should love as Christians. But, what does it tell us about marriage? How do we love one another in marriage as the Bible instructs us to. Discover the direction that Paul provides that will help you to love in a more excellent way in your marriage.
No doubt you have heard many people talk about the legacy of a man named Peyton Manning. Some would argue that he is the greatest football player in history. Others would argue that he cracks the top 5. There are even those who would argue that he has only reached the top 10. And odds are, if you are a football fan, one of those categories I mentioned makes you scratch your head.
Last night, after a pedestrian effort (especially compared to his Hall of Fame worthy career), one of the announcers commented on Manning’s “masterful performance in today’s game and all season long”. In a season in which he was 9th in QBR and only had one TD pass at home during the regular season, this announcer called it masterful. After a Super Bowl that recorded this QB’s stat line as 13 for 23 with 141 yards, 0 TD’s, 1 fumble lost, and 1 interception…this announcer thought it was masterful.
Now…before you begin your ranting message to me about how I am trying to diminish Manning and his accomplishments…I am not. He is a sure-thing Hall of Famer who deserves to be considered one of the best to ever play. I don’t bring this up to tear down Manning. I bring this up to draw your attention to the narratives that we compose.
Peyton Manning’s career has been masterful. I will give you that. But this season was not masterful. Yet, for many, the narrative, regardless of the outcome or how he played, was not going to change. We all compose narratives of the teams and players we love as well as the teams and players we dislike (just mention Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in Indianapolis and you will quickly see a contrast of narratives on two of the greatest QB’s of our day). And the truth of the matter is this: None of those narratives are accurate. They are not accurate because they are always…and I mean always…composed with limited facts or knowledge.
No matter how big of a fan we may be, we never REALLY know the people we have opinions about. All we can do is simply compose our narratives based upon the information we have at hand.
But it is not just athletes that have narratives formed about them. It is all of us. You included. The people around you are composing narratives about you. Based on what they see and what they hear from you and those around you, they are composing narratives about who you are in their mind.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to control how those narratives are composed. At least not entirely. There are some people who will believe that you are one of the top 5 people that they know. If you have kids, hopefully they believe you are in the top 2. There are others, however, that will be confident that you don’t even crack the top 20. All of these decisions of opinion about you will be composed of incomplete information. It will be based upon how they experience you.
While you don’t get to determine the entire picture, you do get to determine some of those foundational aspects of how they view you. For instance, you get to determine how they view your integrity. Do you stand firm for what you believe in? Do you fight for those things you believe are the right things? Do you follow through on your promises? Do you treat others with the respect and dignity that you request they treat you with? Very simply, at the end of the day, are you a man/woman of integrity?
Today is the day you will get on Facebook or Twitter and see a world that celebrates and tears down men for playing a game and how they respond afterward. Those are simply narratives that are not completely accurate because they are based on limited information. On a less public scale…the same is happening to you. But, just like them, you have some say on how that narrative is written.
As you live your life…what are the most important things that you want people to write about you as they compose their narrative? Whether they are composing a negative or positive narrative…what do you hope is undeniable? Once you have determined that…how are you living your life so that the world sees that truth?
Arguing who the greatest QB of all time is a futile effort. There are simply too many perspectives to take. If you want to ask the question of who threw the most TD passes in history…we can handle that one because there are stats to back that up. There are facts to tell you that Peyton Manning is that man.
When the world writes the narrative of your life, the full story is hard to tell because everyone will have their own perspective. Yet, if you live your life with purpose, there will be some things that are undeniable. Some things about your life that all people, regardless of their perspective are able to see because your life told that story clearly.
You see…the world is creating its narrative of you. It is going to happen. The question is…how are you influencing that narrative?
**Many of you are probably wondering if I think Manning is the greatest. Well…I think (and this is my opinion)…if we are talking about this era, he is one of the top two. If we expand our search across the history of the NFL, I would say top 5. Then again…that is simply my narrative.
Every year at this time, in the midst of buying and wrapping gifts, traveling to visit family, preparing Christmas dinner, and all the other stressful moments of Christmas, we hear the story of Christ. And every time we hear the story, we hear the great truth that Jesus has come to us. While this is a great truth, it is only part of the truth. The story of a baby and what God does through the weird 2nd cousin…tells us a slightly different, yet transforming story.
Watch to see why God coming to us is only part of the story.
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The early Church had some things figured out. For starters, they knew why they existed. They had a deep understanding of the purpose and mission of the Church. Today’s Church could stand to revisit that soon.
They also knew what it meant to be rich in good living…in a way that allowed those around them to be rich in good living too. Check out my message from Sunday to discover how you can be rich in good living too. (Check out other messages here).
At times I wonder if the GOP (and politics in general) is a secret subsidiary of the WCW. As I watched the candidates and moderators engage in a battle to see who could be the biggest bully last night (I think the moderators won) I couldn’t help but hope that Hulk Hogan or Macho Man Randy Savage would bust onto the scene and engage in the macho soap opera. I think I just showed my age and the fact that I don’t follow wrestling by using them as my examples. Who are the big names now anyway? Who am I kidding? I don’t really care.
There was one question that stood out in my mind. One of the moderators asked Mike Huckabee if Donald Trump had the moral character to be President of the United States. Really? This is the hard hitting question that needs to be answered? A question that forces one person to judge the moral character of another person? It shouldn’t surprise me…but it did. If I were Mr. Huckabee, I would have said something like, “I have no concerns with the moral character of any candidate on this stage. The moral character I question is the moral character of the one who would ask such a divisive, counter-productive, and offensive question.” Then I would drop the mic and walk off stage (I have always wanted to do that. Unfortunately, the Countryman mic I use to preach with would not be that impactful as it floated to the floor).
If you are reading this I am sure that you have your own thoughts about the moral character of each and every candidate that was on that stage. While I think it was a horrendous question to ask one candidate to publicly address the moral character of another…it is a question that we each must ask ourselves as we discern the candidate we wish to support. More importantly, however, it is important that we consider our own moral character and ask ourselves, “Do I have the moral character that is needed to lead in the area in which I lead?”
Is that a big question for you? Something that is a bit daunting to tackle? It should be…because it is. It is a tough thing to dig into our own depths to seek out the truth of who we are. It is easy to attack others, as evidenced in our political arenas. What is difficult, yet necessary, is the self-exploration that will lead to more effective leadership and a healthier life. As you engage in your own self-exploration, here are a few things to consider.
- Your reputation is birthed by your character. It seems as though we have this backwards most of the time. We believe that if we create an image for ourselves, people will follow us. The problem is if that image does not match who you are, people notice that. Call it integrity. If your behaviors don’t match your professed values…you are not trustworthy. In politics, business, friendships, etc, most people spend too much time developing their image and too little time developing their character. In the end…character shows. Good or bad…character shows.
Character is the tree and reputation is its shadow – Abraham Lincoln
- Some character is universal. While not every case of morality is black and white, there are some instances when there is simply a right and wrong action. Within one’s cultural moral opinion, there are some things that are simply the right thing do to. Choosing not to do the right thing is a sign of poor moral character. It is easy to say that. However, many times the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do. A person with strong moral character will always do the right thing. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. While the action may be difficult…the reason for the action is not.
Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things. – Peter Drucker
- Good character entails truth and grace. As I indicated earlier, integrity comes when your actions and your beliefs are in alignment. Note that this does not indicate the level of goodness of your character. You can act like a complete jerk but if those actions are rooted in jerk-like beliefs…then you have integrity. Integrity means, very simply, that you have an internal truth that you are willing to live out. But living with your truth alone does not create good character. Good character comes when we can live that truth in a grace-filled way. Scripture tells us that, while the law came through Moses, “grace and truth came through Jesus”. As a leader, you will gain respect from those you lead when you are able to stand firm in your beliefs in a way that shows grace to those around you. If you need evidence of this just look to the Scriptures. Jesus continually lived out His Truth in all He did, never compromising. Yet, He did so in a way that extended grace to all those who heard and witnessed His great work. And hoards of people followed Him.
Truth without grace is judgment cloaked in religion. Grace without truth is enablement. – Scott Sauls
You have had good leaders in your life and you have had bad leaders in your life. When you think about those leaders, my guess is the good leaders had good character and the bad leaders did not. Over the course of the next year, we will be hearing politicians judge and ridicule the character of the other person. Much of it will be propoganda…and some of it will be true. But, in the end…their character will show. And…so will yours.
Does Trump have moral character? Well…I have my opinions but I won’t share those here because I have found a more important question that needs to be answered. A question that if we all took the time to address…the world would be a better place. That question: Do I have moral character?
Maybe we should all ask ourselves that question.
Habits. Those things that we do that make routine functions nearly automatic. We have hundreds…if not thousands…of habits in our lives. Many of them you are not even aware of because your brain has created these habits so you can effortlessly accomplish tasks without even thinking about it.
What if I told you there were habits that you could implement in your life that would enable you to experience God’s grace like never before? What if there was a keystone habit that you could implement that would grow your relationship with God in powerful ways? What if watching this message would let you know what that keystone habit is?