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Wednesday
May312017

Associations can Make or Break Your Success

Proverbs 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Most of my early life I hung out with the wrong crowd. It was a crowd that was determined to destroy, steal, and use drugs/alcohol. That crowd taught me the great lesson of not hanging out with people like them. It has been over four decades since I have hung around with this wrong crowd, and today I want to look at the associations we are currently keeping and whether or not they are healthy.

What I have learned over the years as a pastor and Christian leader is that you have to protect yourself against the attacks of the following:

Time Wasters: These are people or situations that will not add value to your life. They will only drain whatever resources you have, and if allowed to be in your life, you will be emotionally bankrupt. These are the situations that will keep you from accomplishing your goals in life.

The Influence of Negativity: There are always two sides of life, the negative and the positive, and you can never avoid the negative. It is a part of life and it gives you a perspective on what is wrong and what needs to change. Don’t ignore the negative, but instead use it to find solutions to make the changes that need to be made.  Negative people, however, will ruin a good day. I think the best thing to do in countering a negative person or a toxic environment is to ask the question, “where is our hope?”
The negative things/people will always be with us, but as we learn from what is wrong from the negative, we can focus on the hope that everything can change if you place your hope in God.

Dishonesty is a Cultural Norm: There are so many areas of living in our culture that you cannot trust. Advertisers lie to sell a product, politicians lie to garner support, religions lie to persuade a following, and culture lies to deceive a crowd.  Sounds defeating doesn’t it?  The truth of the matter is we cannot trust what humankind does, as motives, ambitions, and narcissism all play a big part in how we are influenced by others. To be sure that we are ‘getting what we are being told’ is to test it. Who or what benefits from what is being said?  Is there a hidden agenda that needs to be discovered and exposed? What has been the track record and the side effects of the issue at hand?  So many things to be aware of, and you must start your inquiry by becoming self-aware. If you are easily influenced, conned, or persuaded, then that is your first line of defense, so know your limitations. Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry, your appetite will deceive you into buying things you don’t need. Being self-aware is the first step to stay free from becoming gullible to a cultural influence.

Opportunists: These are people who want a relationship because you can offer them something they don’t have or they need.  I have relationships in my life that only call me when they need something, yet disguise it as friendship. The only reason I am tolerated or considered a friend is because I provide something they need. These are the people or friendships that you probably need to apply some relational distance. Toxic people are everywhere, and toxic people will always find a vulnerable person to plague. Ministry often is filled with toxic people, but these are the people you provide a professional setting for - never invite them to your home or into your inner circle. You will be sorry.

The Unteachables: These are the people that no matter what you say or do they will never be satisfied with you as a person. You always come up short in their eyes. People who are never wrong and have an opinion about everything are shortsighted people who feel inferior in their environment. They compensate their feelings of inadequacy with information and knowledge, overwhelming all others in the group. Churches are full of know-it-all people who are not willing to learn from others, they always want to teach others from their vast wealth of knowledge. These people can be the worst enemy to a project because they always want their way. Why? Because they know better, and are smarter than anyone else in the room, of course. 

If you choose to engage with any of these five people types, prepare yourself to live with frustration, anxiety, and defeat. Remember, you are not God, and you are not all-knowing, all-powerful, nor always present, because that is what is required to deal with these five. It is safe to say you will encounter them every day, but how you linger with them will become the real story. Living life is often like a triage worker - you do what you can at the moment of contact and pass them on to God and others who may be more equipped to handle their intrusion.

Associations are important because they will make or break how you excel at living a life of excellence for Him.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

 

Tuesday
May302017

Name Calling

I was listening to talk radio this morning, and I was amazed at how many times the host used name-calling in the process of communicating his point. It seems the political left loves to call anyone who disagrees with them names like racist, homophobe, or Islamophobe.  However, the right does the same. For example, this morning I heard names such as moron, idiot, and stupid, just to name a few. I know I have been guilty of this myself but I have come to a different point of view more recently. I have used in this blog in the past the name “moron” because I think it fits the description of people who are totally living their life in a political parallel universe. Moron in the dictionary is defined as a stupid person, which just seems appropriate at times. Again, I am not sure that is an effective way to influence people to your side of thinking by calling any opposition in life “morons.” The Church doesn’t escape this name calling either. I have heard people use the word “heretic” when describing people they disagree with theologically. Now there is a time to use that term, but when it is used today, most of the time it is used emotionally as a derogatory term to define “disagreement.”

We will always have disagreements about God and the Bible while still in this world, but I think we need to try to find common ground about the essentials. Some speculation will always be present in our theological teachings, and those need to be identified as such at the time of the presentation. What I find fascinating is that no position that takes on a futuristic eschatological outlook can be 100% assured that a certain view is exactly how God has it planned.  As Paul said, we see through a glass darkly seeing only shadows of how God’s plan will play out.

Several renditions of 1 Corinthians 13:9-12

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Another version says:

1 Cor 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face-to-face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

So many Christians divide over eschatology today, and yet there is not 100% proof in the scriptures exactly how God is going to work His plan in the last days. Many options are presented, some more reasonable than others, but at the end of the day it’s up to God. However, it is not my place to call someone a heretic for not believing in what I think God is going to do, especially since scripture isn’t clear on the day, the hour, or year He will return. If someone claims they know, those things, such as date setters, these are those who could be called a heretic because they are in direct violation of scripture that teaches no one knows those specifics.

I am concerned that many in the Church have become more like the world than they have like the Kingdom. Our job isn’t to name call; our job is to present the one name that is above all names as the way of truth and the way of salvation with God.

I have blogged lately about things I feel are distractions to living out a life of excellence in Christ:

Read those again please.  In fact read them several times.

Now tell me: is there any spiritual health in either of them?

None you say? Then why do you practice them? 

Now that is a great question, isn’t it?

Keeping it honest and truthful.

K

 

Thursday
May252017

Do All Things With Excellence

I love the wisdom books of the Bible because I find such practical thoughts for everyday living. For example:

Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatever you do, do it well.”

Of course no one does anything to perfection, but we should strive to live life with a mindset that whatever we do, we will do it to the best of our ability. That not only means the things we do with our abilities, it also means the way we treat others, starting with our families. Today I had a conversation with a relative who has been estranged from his family for several years. He seemed to have a good reason to justify it, but I think the goal of living an excellent life is not justifying our divisions, but the goal is to be a healer in areas where there is a breach of trust. When we are discovering things to do well in our lives, one area where we all need help is in our relationships. People are always getting upset with others, sometimes over such small differences. We live in a broken world and that means what people do and say are also broken. We can always justify how hurt and wounded we are but that is not living out a life of excellence. A few blog posts ago I wrote about excuses and how we always justify why we didn’t do something or talk to someone. The usual excuse is, “I have been so busy that I just didn’t have time.”  That is usually the biggest lie on earth. It is just an excuse, because if you really want to do something you will prioritize it and get it done.  Most excuses are lies, and if you are honest you will agree with me. The honest answer is, “I just didn’t feel like doing it, so I didn’t.”  Living a life of excellence isn’t being perfect, it is being honest. When someone starts a conversation with an excuse, a justification, or any deflection from what is really going on, that person does not understand how to live a life of excellence. 

Living life with the integrity to do it well means you must not use excuses to escape an honest response.  That is why Jesus told us to leave the gifts we have brought to God at the altar and quickly go settle any disputes someone has with you.

Matthew 5:24 leave your gift before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

 

God is concerned about our relationships because they will define how we love Him. Did you get that? Re-read it because that sentence is the most important thought in this blog posting.

I think this is the most overlooked spiritual teaching today in the church. People want to become spiritual so they study the Bible, go to classes, sometimes even seminary, and yet they failed the biggest test of all.  How am I doing with my relationships with people?

1 John 4:20 “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

In order to live a life of excellence you have to discover how to love God and people at the same time, because your relationship with one will affect the other.

Love has no excuses or justifications for why you can’t love people. If you don’t love people, I am sorry to inform you, you don’t love God.

“Whatever you find to do, do it well.”  That is a great assignment for all of us to add to our journey as we figure out how to live a life of excellence.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

Tuesday
May232017

All Are Welcome Here

 

My neighborhood has signs that say:  “All Are Welcome Here!”  I wonder what the relatives of the 22 who died (12 were children under the age of 16) and the 59 who were injured in Manchester England would say to that today?  I want to make a sign that says, “All are welcome here, except those who want to kill Americans.”

I wonder when the world will wake up and answer this multiple question:

“What religion kills people because of their militant interpretation of their belief in God?”

  1. Christianity
  2.  Judaism
  3.  Hinduism
  4.  Buddhism
  5.  Islam

I know that some people believe that radical Islam is a hijacking of Islam, but that is just not true. Why? Because the Quran teaches that belief in Allah means you are an enemy of those who do not believe.

The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.

This radicalism will continue until the western countries stop being soft targets for this kind of behavior.

Ecclesiastes 8:11

“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people's hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.”

Today the threat in England is high, and the military has been employed to protect the public against what authorities say are “other threats that are imminent.”

One news commentator said the issue for some radical Muslims is that entertainment is perverse and these kinds of venues are a soft target to make a statement with a violent attack. What right does Islam have to violate the rights of others who have freedom to dress and be entertained as they wish?  What right does Islam have to kill others because it has a terrorist mandate to disrupt and to frighten the West?   Here is where Westerners are naïve and quite stupid. The Europeans are like those whose lawns in my neighborhood are blanketed with signs saying, “All are welcome here.”

I am sorry BUT I don’t want them here. Any religion or people group that does what has been done in France, Manchester, London, Spain, Orlando, San Bernardino, Boston, Belgium, Germany and many more places in the world, are not welcome here. Why would you welcome them here? What is it about a religion that teaches that it is okay to kill people who don’t believe like you - why is that okay? Why are they welcome here?

You say well, most Muslims don’t kill people, and that is true, but the teachings of their religion tell those who have the guts to kill people that it is okay to do so.

I want to know why that is okay, and why are they are welcome here?

What happened in Manchester England where many of those who died were 16 years of age or younger, should be a global outcry for radical change within Islam.

Every mosque in every country needs to preach and teach that Islam is more than terrorism, and it must prove to the world that Muslims are better than the terrorists that are now in control of its image. I just don’t see the Muslim community actively fighting against how the terrorists represent Islam around the world.

Until there is a radical change within Islam, no country in its right mind will allow a Muslim person to immigrate into their land.

Preservation of our children and a way of life, our freedom, is our job as parents and grandparents, and unless we stop the migration from the Middle East we will never be safe as a nation. This is not a hateful statement, it is a statement of reality, and the Western World needs to wake up and realize what they are facing.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

Thursday
May182017

A Generation of Excuses

Luke 14:24 “For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.'"

Jesus was using a parable, a lesson that was directed at Israel. They were invited to a very special dinner and those initially invited (Israel), had excuses as to why they could not come:

  • I have to look after the land I just bought
  • I have to look after the animals I just bought
  • I have just been married and I need to look after her

All of life was a big excuse. So the man went to the highways and common areas of the town and invited the most unlikely people in to his special dinner.

I hear excuses every day from all kinds of people, including myself, about things that are difficult to face. There was a man I knew that loved to complain about others, nothing was ever right with other people and his complaining never ceased.  Then one day he got wind that he was being accused of something and was the talk of the town. He was so angry that he gave every excuse in the book to prove he was innocent of what was being said about him. He may have been innocent of what he was being accused of, but he was not innocent of reaping what he had been sowing for years. People who live by the sword will die by the sword, and God will not be mocked. If you live to sow excuses for your behavior, attitude, or negative thinking, you will reap the wrath of those excuses by being accused. An excuse is the language of a coward because he does not want to face the responsibility of being honest. How many times have we made an excuse to get out of a commitment and our excuse sounded better than the truth of, “I just don’t want to go?”  Our country has become a nation of excuses. No one in Washington, DC will take the blame for the mess our country is in, because it is always the other party’s fault.  Wouldn’t it be great if both parties admitted to being part of the problem, and swear an oath to stop blaming and start fixing what is wrong?   All we hear out of Washington these days is blame, and a tirade of excuses as to why we can’t fix healthcare, voter fraud, media bias, leaks, and premeditated lies to destroy the elected officials who the voters put into office.

I hate excuses and even though I get caught using them at times, I hate myself for it. It is time we stop using excuses and tell the truth and move forward in doing what we know is right, all the time. My wife taught me a lesson the other day. We ordered some ceiling lights to go into our bedroom and a set came and we were happy. A few days later another set came and we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to return them. In fact, there was no record of a charge, no return labels, nothing. So, I just said, “well let’s just keep them since there is no way to make this right.” “No,” she said, “It’s not right.”  She persisted hour after hour and finally got someone to help her return them. You see, my excuse was “well, there is no way to return them, so let’s give up and keep them.”  “We are not stealing them, we just can’t find a way to return them.” Excuses are never justifications for not doing what is right. However, we make excuses all the time in not treating people right, or making things right.

There will be no excuses when we come before Jesus on judgment day. He will know our motives, He will not entertain the excuses, and He will award us according to the honesty we demonstrated in our lives. I have prayed for more self-awareness in my life, being aware of my shortsightedness that usually is the reason for an excuse to be born. I want to live free from an excuse-driven life, and face the truth on all accounts in all relationships, starting first with my family.

How about you?  Have you ever been disgusted with how dishonest you can become and make excuses just to save face?

The story Jesus told had grave ramifications to Israel because her excuse cost her the recognition of her Messiah.  Our excuse may not have that grave of an implication, but the dishonesty of an excuse can have its problems.

Keeping it honest and truthful…..K

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