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5 Reasons You Might Want To Reconsider The Lists You Re-post

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all read them. We’ve all re-posted them.

Yep… me too. Guilty as charged.

Sprout 2THE LISTS. Like God’s promise in Genesis to Abraham about his offspring, social media/internet lists are becoming as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lists for every conceivable vocation, location, and 12-step program in 15 easy steps. For someone who is in the ministry (like me), it seems like these lists grow faster than the weeds in my flower beds at home. For ministers and ministry-types, the topics can include (but are certainly not limited to) things like…

10 Things You are Doing Right in Your Ministry.

20 Things You are Doing Wrong in Your Ministry.

22 Things You’d Be Doing Right if Your Weren’t Doing Them Wrong (in Your Ministry).

You get the idea. Can I hear an “amen”?

And while some lists are totally informational and harmless — lists like “10 Things to See on Your Trip to Vermont” or “The 15 Top Dining Spots in Coos Bay, Oregon”, others are less so. Others go to the heart of who we are, not just as organizations, but who God made us as individuals.

So here is my list. It’s short — just 5 points — so here we go…

5 Things You Should Consider Before Re-posting Lists

  1. Who is posting your list of choice? Just because someone has a popular blog or website does not necessarily make them an authority on every given subject. Before you re-post something as Gospel that could have a far reaching effect on someone else’s spirit, make sure it actually IS Gospel. Just because you agree with it does not make it right or accurate, it just means it struck a nerve with you for some reason. There is a good chance that, if you agree with it but it does not line up with the Word of God, you might need to step away from the screen and do a little soul searching yourself. Regardless of the authors “credentials”, you should always do your due diligence before parroting anything. Even experts make mistakes.

    The Bottom Line: Don’t listen to every voice. Choose carefully those you allow to speak into your life and destiny.

  2. Beware the “Guilt-List Post.” I think 20 years from now, we will have an entirely new and thriving area of psychology brought on by psychoses born in the realm of social media. I am seeing more and more where we have gotten to a place in which public statements on social media are taking the place of disagreements that should be handled in private conversations; primary among these are what I would term the “Guilt-List Post“… someone who disagrees with something, and posts a list on social media or a blog to add validity to their argument. For ministry-types, whether it is preaching styles, music tastes, or witnessing ideas, people often re-post lists because they either feel guilty, or are trying to “guilt” someone else into seeing things their way, all because some “expert” says “this is what you are doing wrong”.
    In Isaiah 1, the Bible says…

    “Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the Lord,
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
    They shall be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18

    Social media posting, messaging, and emailing will never be a good substitute for sitting down face to face and reasoning things out with another person. Passive-aggressive chastisement on Facebook is not what Jesus was talking about when He gave us His words in Matthew 18 about how brothers and sisters should deal with disagreement and offense. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a cheap, ill-used, and misdirected substitute.

    The Bottom Line: Social media posts and emails are breeding grounds for misunderstandings and confusion. Learn the art of conversing and (more importantly) listening.

  3. The Self-Aggrandizement Post. The opposite of the Guilt-List Post is the Self-Aggrandizement Post. This is posting a list to reaffirm what you are doing right, and to let everyone else across the world know what you are doing right as well. While affirmation is fine (and we all need it), I’m not sure posting a subjective list based on one person’s opinion as your basis for success is the best way to go about it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 say it better than any 12-point list…

    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~ Matthew 7:18-20

    As someone wiser than me once said…

    A man’s gift makes room for him,
    And brings him before great men. ~ Proverbs 18:16

    In other words, when you let your gifts and talent do the talking, is doesn’t take a lot of words for people to take notice.

    The Bottom Line: Memorize Proverbs 18:16, and remember: “A little humility goes a long way.”

  4. What works for them may not work for you. Celebrating the success of others is great, but one person’s (or organization’s) recipe for success does not necessarily mean it will work for you or yours. While there are some basic, common-sense elements to success that we should all strive to maintain (hard work, diligence, kindness, fiscal responsibility), the fact is that what works in Chattanooga, TN — “the buckle of the Bible-Belt” — might not necessarily work in a place like Oakland, CA. A church in Birmingham, AL that has a thriving bus ministry might not be a great model for a church in Manhattan, KS. There’s an old saying that goes “Bloom where you’re planted.” If you are “planted” in a place that is hard and rocky, you are going to have to get more creative in order to be a success than someone who is “planted” in fertile soil. In fact, you may find that your definition of success is markedly different.

    The Bottom Line: Find your sufficiency in God. Allow Him to define your measure of success.

  5. What has God told you to do? This really is the heart of the matter: What is the revelation God has given YOU? What is the call of God on YOUR life or the life of your organization? Many times in the Bible (and throughout history, for that matter), we have seen God reveal Himself in unusual ways, and give individuals or groups an unusual call or command. For example:

    Moses parted the Red Sea simply by lifting his staff and stretching out his hand.

    The children of Israel leveled the walls of Jericho with a shout and the sound of trumpets.

    A kid named David took out a giant warrior named Goliath with a single stone.

    John The Baptist subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey.

    In the end, while advice is good and good advice should always be considered, nothing can replace the calling of God for you. It might look unusual. It might be unconventional. It might be what the “experts” call crazy. However, if it truly is from God, then you can rest assured that, even if it seems chaotic or way out of the norm, He will be in the middle of it to guide your hand every step of the way.

    The Bottom Line: No ten-step plan to success will ever make you as successful as the single plan of God for your life and circumstances.

So be encouraged if you are a work in progress. If you have a true word from God, He is going to make a way in whatever wilderness you find yourself.

And if you don’t have that word yet, just remember what God said in Jeremiah 29:13…

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

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The Gospel According to Forrest Gump

ShrimpAnyone born prior to 2009 is probably at least familiar with the name Forrest Gump. As the 20th anniversary of it’s release approaches (originally released on July 6, 1994), I thought this post a timely one. Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, I’m sure you are familiar with some of the colloquialisms derived from the film, as well as some of the pop-culture that was born from it. After all, ever hear of  the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.?

(Incidentally, they DO have boiled shrimp, popcorn shrimp, fried shrimp, jumbo shrimp, shrimp creole, BBQ shrimp, etc… but I digress)

Among his most famous “Gump-isms”, one phrase that is often re-quoted in normal conversation is one quote Forrest attributed to his momma.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Well, as living proof of that, allow me to share my own “Forrest Gump moment”. Recently, I was speaking out of town, but as it was not at an unreasonable distance, we decided to drive. There are a number of people who sometimes travel with me to assist with logistics, books, etc., and on this occasion, my travel companion was a gentleman named Brad. We got to the multi-evening event, and everything went great. However, due to a wedding I was slated to participate in back in Chattanooga, we had to leave immediately once I finished speaking at the last session, and begin the long drive back home.

On the last night of the event, upon completion of the service, we packed up all of our books and materials, said goodbye to the wonderful folks who afforded us the opportunity, and headed out to the truck (I drive an SUV). As we approached the vehicle, I realized something was wrong…

It was already running.

Now, this is a problem, since Brad had stayed with me the whole time, and had never come out to the truck to start it ahead of time. In fact, neither of us had been out to the truck since before the service started, a couple of hours before. As all of the potential reasons why it may have been running, as well as the potential consequences of such, raced into my mind, all I could come up with was a simple question…

“Brad… Did you leave the car running this WHOLE TIME????”

Without missing a beat, and seemingly unfazed by the directness of my question, Brad very simply replied, “No, I just started it remotely a minute ago.”


“You did WHAT?” I asked.

“What? You didn’t know you can start it remotely?” Brad asked with a touch of incredulity in his voice. He held up the remote to the truck. “Yeah, you push this button, then push this other one, and it cranks right up.”

So let me get this straight… I have had this vehicle for how-many-years, and never knew I could start it remotely? All of the scorching, southern days that I sat in the car, sweating until the AC caught up with the oven-imitating cab? All of the cold, winter mornings that I had to leave the warmth of my home to go out and crank the icy engine? You mean to tell me that, all this time, I could have simply pushed a button, and let the car warm up (or cool down), without the discomfort of my presence?

Ok… as I am so fond of saying in my sermons: “Hold up your sign” (you know, the one that says stupid on it).

Well, I guess I wouldn’t be a real preacher if I couldn’t find a spiritual application to my own misfortune (or stupidity), so here we go…

How many times have we all had something at our fingertips, and never realized it? How many times has the answer, solution, or tool we needed been within our grasp, but we are too focused on the complexity of the job to see the simple fix? How many of us are guilty of being creatures of habit to the point that, when a better way comes along, we ignore it and wallow in our time-worn inefficiency?

The Psalmist said…

  Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ~ Psalm 103:2-5

   Ok. Closer to home. How many of us are really good at “blessing the LORD”, and really bad at “forgetting NOT all His benefits”?

Chocolate“Momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates.
You never know what you’re gonna get.'” ~ Forrest Gump

We sing praises. We worship. We bless His name. However, when the first sign of trouble comes, we retreat into the “box of chocolates“, and we take whatever is handed to us — complain, worry, and fret — and forget that…

He forgives.

He heals.

He redeems.

He crowns (rewards).

He satisfies.

He renews.

While life may be as unpredictable as a box of chocolates, it doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down. You know, it’s a wonderful thing when a Christian does not get used to being a Christian. The ability to still learn, still study, still pray, still have a sense of wonder… still trust. Sometimes, we get lost in the life of being a believer, and forget what it means to actually believe. We must never lose sight that our God never gets old, never gets tired, is always creating, is always ready with a new “gadget” or two that may surprise us, and always has your best interests at heart.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my staff members sang a song on Sunday morning that he wrote several years ago. I think it is appropriate today. As you listen to it (video link below), remember that while the world may say you are stupid for believing in Someone you cannot see, as Paul said…

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18

So, maybe “stupid IS as stupid does“. But, if that means believing in the “foolishness” of the cross, and that putting my faith and trust squarely in Jesus is “stupid” — then stupid is something I can live with.

How about you?

Pastor Ron