There is Always Something You Don’t Know

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

A lot of us work somewhere that’s not ‘headquarters.’ Not ‘corporate.’ Not ‘the home office.’ That was me once. When the orders were handed down to us in the field, they sometimes seemed dumb. Out of touch with the real-world situation on the ground. I’d say, “What are they thinking up in the ivory tower?”

Then it happened.

I was promoted and transferred to corporate. One of my first tasks was complicated with all kinds of HR and union concerns . . . things I had no knowledge of a few weeks earlier. When the new instructions went out to the field, my phone lit up. “Regi, what are you thinking?” “It sure didn’t take you long to forget what it’s like out here.” “You’re just like the rest of them . . . out of touch and totally insensitive to the headaches you’re creating for us out here!”

My boss picked up on it. He took me aside and taught me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “There’s always something you don’t know.” In a lower-level job or a remote position, there are things people ‘upstairs’ know that you don’t. We never have the whole picture.

This same principle applies in everyday relationships. When your wife comes home acting cross and impatient, there’s something you don’t know. When someone races past then cuts you off in traffic, there’s something you don’t know. When your teammate turns critical and negative, there’s something you don’t know.

And when God doesn’t cause or allow things to work out the way you want them to, there’s something you don’t know. A lot of what we don’t know will never be known until we’re there with God in the next life.

Lean into what you do know. God is good, and God loves you. That’s really all you need to know.


I Just Want to be Happy

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

How many times have you heard someone say, “But I just want to be happy!” Or even said it yourself?

“I’d be happy if I could lose another 10 pounds, but I hate starving all the time!”

“I love the people I work with, but I’m so unhappy with my job.”

“I can’t stand this apartment anymore . . . I want a house!”

“I’ll never be happy here. Don’t you see how people look at me?”

“I don’t get squat from attending my church, but I’m not going through ripping my wife away from her Bible study friends. I just want her to be happy!”

It’s like happiness is something we trade for. “I’ll give up (fill in the blank) in return for being happy.” But it never seems to work out, does it?

Three things make us unhappy . . .

  1. Not getting something we want
  2. Not getting to do what we want to do
  3. Not having people think what we want them to think

Anxiety comes from unmet expectations, and all three of these ‘unhappies’ start with expectations . . . for ourselves, other people or God. We, humans, create a never-ending stream of expectations.

Even when we get what we think we want, we’re not happy for long. Or down deep. No sooner than we get the ‘thing’ we want, we want something else. The thing we want to do might make us happy for a little while, but stuff changes, something new appears, and happiness fades. And getting people’s approval is never certain and as fickle as a housefly. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.

Happy is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” It comes from the same root word as ‘haphazard.’ It connotes random. Spurious. Here and there. Unpredictable.

But the word ‘joy’ . . . which comes from the word ‘rejoice,’ means “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words ‘happy’ and ‘happiness’ about 30 times, while ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ appear over 300 times.

For me, joy rides on two things: love and hope. It first came when I grasped that I was loved . . . like really loved . . . by my Heavenly Father. And it hasn’t left since. I have an irrevocable hope because I know that I will always be loved. Personally. By the God of the universe. He knows my name! And He loves me. Individually. Amazing, huh?

The only sure cure for anxiety is a grateful heart. And for the Jesus-follower who ‘gets it,’ gratitude is the default setting of the heart. Grasping how much God loves us, how He forgives us, how He’s always there for us . . . that’s the source of real joy. And that joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances. It’s available 24/7/365. Not haphazard. It’s there for every Jesus-follower.

Scripture: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13.

Stop Tinkering

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Did you know that there’s been a dramatic shift in the age when most young adults complete all the major transitions into adulthood? We’re talking about leaving home, finishing school, becoming financially independent, getting married and having a child. Back in 1960, 77% of women and 65% of men had completed all these transitions by age 30. Fast forward to 2000 and those numbers dropped to only 46% of women and only 31% of men having completed those same transitions by the time they turned 30.

Why? For one thing, today we have an overwhelming number of choices. But in addition to that, young people struggle with making big decisions. Robert Wuthnow, whose book After the Baby Boomers is the source of the statistics in the first paragraph, calls these 21 to 45-year-olds ‘tinkerers.’ They tinker with doctrines, churches, relationships, college majors, advanced degrees, living at home and even with spiritual practices. Those who are Christians often get stuck waiting to know ‘God’s perfect will,’ or ‘for a door to open,’ or ‘for a word from the Lord’ and so on.

Years ago, when I was contemplating leaving my job at AT&T, I read everything I could get my hands on about finding God’s will. I was desperate. I’d never had a grownup job anywhere other than ‘the phone company.’ It was lucrative and secure. But I had no peace . . . my single-minded passion for moving up in the company had almost ruined my marriage. Yet I had no open doors to another job. I needed God to tell me what to do. Stay or go? Keep on or start over?

My investigation into finding God’s will led me to an understanding that served me well then and since. And at some point, I found Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something, which spells it out with an economy of words. He says the New Testament illuminates 3 flavors of God’s will . . .

God’s will of decree – This is what God ordained. Some people call this His sovereign will. He decides. He rules. He’s never wrong. We can’t know his will of decree . . . we can only accept and respect it. It cannot be thwarted.

God’s will of desire – This is how things ought to be. It’s the bulk of the New Testament and of Jesus’ life and teaching. Sometimes called God’s moral will . . . it’s His prescription for how we should live our lives, how we should love and relate to others and how we should relate to Him.

God’s will of direction – This is God’s specific plan for your life; could be called His individual will. Should I leave this job? Buy this house? Move back to my hometown? Pray as long and as hard as you will, but God rarely tells us what to do. DeYoung says He loves us too much to take away our free will. He lets us choose for ourselves and that’s ok, so long as we operate within the bounds of His will of desire . . . His moral will as revealed in the New Testament.

While there’s the age-old argument about what’s predestined and what’s not, there’s more consensus around God’s wills of decree and desire. His authority over Heaven and earth is obvious. And His desire for our behavior to reflect what Jesus did and what the New Testament says is pretty clear. The harder part comes in regard to God’s will of direction. DeYoung argues (and I agree) that God’s individual will for me and you can only be understood in arrears. “Looking back” he writes, “we will often be able to see God’s hand in bringing us to where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.” God gives us His Word, free will, access to the wise counsel of other Jesus-followers and the assurance of His presence with us no matter what we decide. Then we decide and go! Our challenge is to trust Him with the outcome . . . regardless. That’s what we call faith.

So, my advice for those who are tinkering away their lives? Just do something!

Broken People Healing Broken People

Reposted from Jamin Bradley’s Blog

It’s interesting how overweight and smoking doctors can still heal you, isn’t it? By all means, if anyone knows the dangers of obesity and smoking, it’d be them right? But despite their problems, they can still lead you on a path towards health, treat your sickness, and prescribe the right medicine.

Sometimes in Christianity, we think that we have to have it all together before we help someone else walk through spiritual healing. Someone comes to us asking for help, but we’re afraid to offer it because we feel too belittled by our own problems. Even more so, we feel like a hypocrite.

“How do I get you out of your crap when I’m still stuck in mine?”

Well here’s some good news for you: we all have crap. Pastors included. And it’s a shame that we would be unwilling to help others because we’re too ashamed of ourselves.

The beauty of groups like Alcoholics Annonymous and Celebrate Recovery is that a bunch of openly broken people work alongside each other. They are open to helping each other even when they themselves are falling apart. They all have the same (or similar) problem. Some of them have achieved sobriety, while others are still stuck in relapse. But they offer whatever help they can provide to each other regardless of where they are at. Some even often ask for advice from those who are doing worse than they are, which is healing to both.

I suppose the old adage is true: you can’t give someone something you don’t have, hence why not just anyone can be a sponsor—hence why not just anyone can be a doctor! But our brokenness does not mean we are incapable of helping each other, loving each other, and generally guiding each other towards Jesus.

My fear is more so for those with a plank in their eye—unable to see or admit their own brokenness but willing to offer advice to others, even though Biblically, the others are better off with only a spec in their eye. Pride is a pharisaical and dangerous attribute to wield at someone.

When you’re truly unable to help someone, lead them to someone who can. But don’t belittle yourself in resentment and shame and think you have nothing to add. If you’re avidly working on your brokenness, you are not as much of a hypocrite as you think.



Reposted from God is my Spinach

The LORD Almighty has sworn,
“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
and as I have purposed, so it will happen.
(Isaiah 14:24)

Today is a famous day described as a day of Infamy. It is one of the most famous days in the history of war. There are a lot of famous battles described in our history books, David and Goliath, Troy, Gettysburg…and more. I need to wonder and ask why. Most wars since WWII have been un-Godly nobody wins situations that do not seem to resolve anything. In fact, after the treaties are signed there has been as much tension as before and does not make a lot of sense to me.

So where is God in all of this? What would Jesus do? How come both sides can think God is with them? These are great questions and I am not even going to try to answer them. I will refer them to Abraham Lincoln as he analyzed God’s presence in war.

In Abraham Lincoln: A History by Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln is quoted: “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purposes of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities working just as they do, are of the best adaption to effect His purpose…God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. …He could give final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.”

Today we need to remember Pearl Harbor, a day in infamy. We also need to pray for an end to all conflicts and terrorist acts, we need to contemplate world peace.