Lessons for the Journey!

We just finished our study today through the life of Abraham with my executive small group!  Getting to see the high’s & low’s of this great leaders life was incredible.  We compared it to watching a Hall of Fame baseball player play every game.  You know they are good but you see their 0 for 5 days and remember their key errors that really hurt single games.  You forget that they ended up hitting over .300 for their career and really were one of the greats of their generation!  It is much like that when looking at a great character of scripture…..they have to finish the race for you to measure their impact!

Charles Swindoll ended his great work on Abraham by laying out these lessons:

  • Wherever God leads, FOLLOW!  The road may get windy & curvy at times but you will know that you are never alone for any part of the journey!!!
  • Whatever God promises, BELIEVE!  Nothing will develop your faith more than believing God for impossible things!  If we can do it or achieve it – there is no faith involved!
  • Whenever God tests, TRUST!  Know that God is always at work shaping your faith into what HE desires for it to be!  When the testing bears down on you – trust that His plan is always best and what He has for you is greater than anything that you could dream up for yourself!!  TRUST!
  • However God blesses, SHARE!  Don’t hold your blessings and keep them to yourself….remember where they came from and share them with others like they have been shared with you!  

Happy Birthday Casey!

It is hard to imagine that you are the little baby that Anne & I brought home and now you are turning 22!   Casey, we had so many prayers for you and things that we hoped that God would do with you!  Today, I woke up this morning flooded with so many memories and realizations of how God has answered so many of those prayers…..:

We prayed:

  • You would love Jesus!  Seeing you today, not only loving the Lord, but also helping students not only meet the Lord but follow Him makes me prouder than you will ever know!   I pray that that your love for Jesus will continue to grow with every year that goes by and the further you go the more you realize how much HE loves you!
  • You would love your family….It is such a blessing to have you come home from your apartment and sit around the table and laugh and talk about life!  In what I do every day, I realize what a gift that is and how blessed we are!   This was one of our greatest prayers for you…..we always wanted our home to be the safest place in the world to be you!  When MM is home from school – that table always feels complete!
  • You would be respectful & Kind to others….In a world that is filled with so much hostility – we prayed you would be someone that would be a breath of fresh air for others when you walked into the room!  I know that this something that will develop over life but I know for so many, you are that to them.  You have been given a great ability to use words to write and what you wrote the other week about the situation at Allatoona and how you felt about the people affected made me so proud!  Don’t stop developing this gift!
  • You work hard – One of greatest prayers is that you would be tenacious about whatever you were involved in and work hard.  I know that I probably drove you nuts about this growing up but it is so awesome to see you living this out now!  Pushing through college while working PT and doing all that you do is a trait that will take you a long way in life!
  • You love sports…This was my selfish prayer (probably not one mom prayed) but certainly one that I did!  TO say that prayer was answered has been an understatement.  I think your love for sports has eclipsed even mine!  I am so thankful because some of my favorite memories together with you have been going to or from a baseball, football or basketball game!  The talks in the car or the airplane or now, even coaching together in the dugout, are memories I will cherish forever!
  • You would find great friends ….This weekend when some of your friends came in to stay at the house, it was a reminder of how God has answered that prayer for you!
  • You would find your calling…..Our friend Ira quotes the famous phrase all of the time, “There are two great days in life, the day you are born and the day you figure out why you were born”.  I am so thankful you figured out why you were born!  You can now find purpose and direction for the rest of your days!!!  It is the greatest feeling in the world to know your why!
  • You would find your “best friend”….Our prayer for you & MM has been that you would find someone that you can’t just live with but someone you truly can’t live without!  We pray that you will enjoy marriage one day as much as we have!

Casey, I could go on & on…..but I will stop with this thought….When you were growing up, I heard this phrase about parenting, “If you will be their parent now, you can be their friend later”.   Parenting was tough for many of those years because we wanted to do what was easiest for you & Mary-Michal, but we knew that what was easiest and would you make you like us the most was not the best thing for you.  I know it kept you from doing things you wanted to do and probably hindered your social status with friends but I am thankful that you stuck it out with us so today we can enjoy what we enjoy!  You are probably my closest guy friend in the world and outside your mom & sister…I would choose to be with you over hanging with anyone else!   I love you Casey Linch and I pray that year 23 is your best yet!!!  You truly do make us proud!

Plans & Steps

We all have big plans for our lives don’t we?  If my plan had worked out, I would be coming out of the dugout at Turner Field every night and pitching for the Braves!   I am sure that your plan would have taken you somewhere else as well and we would be living what WE thought was best for our lives!

“WE make our plans but the LORD determines our STEPS” Prov. 16:9

Are you not thankful that God took things that you would probably would not have chosen to get you where you are today!  There is not a step that we take in life that is outside of His view.  We can make our plans but at the end of the day, HE will help us get to where we need to be!

Key – TRUST Him (not yourself) with every decision and every step and He will make your path straight!!!

How to survive a storm

We are in a series at NorthStar called “Forge”…..talking about how God uses things in our lives to FORGE our faith into what we need and what He desires it to be!!  This past Sunday I had the blessing to interview a couple that experienced a massive storm five years ago when they lost their son.  I can’t imagine going through what they went through but ….they are still walking!  Here are some of the lessons (from them) and from watching them……PRAY that this helps you through your storm:

  • At the end of the day it is about TRUST.  One of the things that they shared was that they had to trust that God was in control even when it appeared He was not.  This trust is just as important five years later as it was at the beginning.  The question is – do we trust Him or not?  Trust He knows something that we do not and we hold on to that!
  • Stay in the boat.  The disciples found themselves in a storm going across the lake and Jesus was not with them.  In the middle of the night – in the darkest of the storm He came to them walking on the water and they invited Him in the boat and He calmed them even before calming the storm.  One of the things that Pat, the dad, shared was that you can’t get out of the boat.  Even though you feel like waving the white flag and bailing – you have to stay in and keep going!  HUGE thought!  All of us want to quit and get out and ask God where in the world He is….fact is – we never will if we get out of the boat!
  • HOPE……Hope keeps us going.  Hope that the son they lost they will see again and HOPE that he is in a place that they are also going to.  Sherry, the mom, said “I can’t imagine going through this without faith & hope”…….Hope pulls us ahead and keeps us going!
  • Keep moving!  I have watched this precious couple and so many others like them go through a million different stages through their journey’s…..here is one thing that they have all had in common – they kept moving!  If you are in a storm right now – you will go through every emotion imaginable (frustration, loneliness, anger, questioning)….all of those are ok but you can’ t stay there!  God can handle your doubts and your questions…..just keep moving!  Move toward Him (even when you don’t feel like it)!!!

 

Live with Great Expectation

Do you believe that your best days are in front of you or are they behind you?  The answer to that question will tell a lot about how you approach & tackle life!   There is no doubt that at 47 I do not have the energy I had at 27 but I pray that I still have great dreams!  Who is to say that God’s biggest plans still lie out in front of us….?  Praying that today you live with “GREAT EXPECTATION” and dream big dreams!

If you are a believer – you still have this great day to look forward to!!!

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation (1 Peter 1:3)

Live it to the FULL!

I was doing my small group study notes this morning and we are wrapping up the life of Abraham and ran across this passage….

These are [a]all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a [b]ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. (Gen. 25:7-8)

I love that term “satisified” with life….meaning it was FULL!  We all know that Abraham had some incredibly high points and some super low points but at the end…..in the rearview mirror – IT WAS FULL!

Praying today that is your story!  How did Abraham get there….he kept living….he kept moving….he kept growing and in the end this could be said of him!

Don’t stop – don’t quit – keep going and see how God finishes your story!

Great tools to help you grow!

If you want to get better as a leader – you have to keep growing!!  The question is….how?  We are all busy…. we all have full calendars….So how do we take advantage of the time that we have??  Glad you asked – here are a couple of thoughts:

Technology is a beautiful thing.  We all have access to some of the brightest minds that are out there in our fields.  Use your drive time to listen & learn.  To make this happen – Stitcher radio has been my go-to.  Your favorite podcast can be put in your favorites list and then you can listen & grow while you drive.  It is incredibly easy to use and an unbelievable resource.  If you have to tune out before podcast is over, it holds your place until you come back!!  Love that!

Here are five of my favorites to listen to:

  • Carey Nieuwhof Leadership – Carey is not only a great leader but his guest list is incredible.  He asks great questions from some world renowned leaders.  It is updated weekly and it is SOLID!
  • Andy Stanley Leadership – Andy is the best in the business.  His mind for leadership is respected not only in the church world but also in the business world.  Each episode is a keeper!
  • EntreLeadership   – Dave Ramsey’s team does a super job putting together a challenging weekly podcast.  Ken Coleman is a great host and always is well informed and ask great questions of his guest.  Also included are Dave Ramsey clips of his challenges to his team and they provide great fuel to any leader!
  • Vanderbloemen Leadership – William is the leading mind in the area of helping staff churches through the Vanderbloemen search group.  He uses this influence in  connecting with some of the sharpest leaders in the church world and giving you access into their leadership platform!  Excellent listen!
  • Rainer on Leadership – Thom Rainer from Lifeway does an excellent job helping pastors as they navigate the journey of pastoring & leading!!  Great thought leader!

There are tons more that I listen to and enjoy but these are my go to’s each week!    Hope this helps you on your leadership journey!