Archive

Archive for the ‘The Brotherhood of the 2nd Cross’ Category

The Brotherhood – Part 179

November 12, 2014 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Men like dogs.

For most guys, cats don’t make the cut. When I see a man cuddling a cat, I can’t help but think that something is unusual about that picture. Now, maybe my judgment is affected by my allergies, but I’m more of a dog guy and I think I’ve met more men who prefer the canine side of the chase. If you’re a cat guy, my apologies for my inability to comprehend your world, but nobody ever suggested that a yellow tabby might be man’s best friend. We like dogs.

Why? Surely it’s not their tendency to rip things to shreds with their teeth or to mark every tree in the yard with their unique signature. No, a dog is man’s besty because of his apparent loyalty. A dog sticks with you, comes when you call, and will rescue you when you’ve fallen down an abandoned well. Cats just hiss at you when they think you want them to move.

Loyalty isn’t just a valuable expression for a pet. It works well for the human species too. When people are loyal, a deep bond can form–a firm trust and dependability that makes life feel stronger. And, since they also possess opposable thumbs rather than paws, loyal humans offers even more capacity than your favorite pooch.

In fact, loyalty makes a man great. That’s why our Brotherhood has prioritized this trait, especially when that loyalty is aimed toward God and His local expression of family–our church. Be dependable when God’s purposes are on the line and you likely can’t be operating in a better mode. Be faithful to serve others the way Jesus demonstrated for us and you’ll find life at its very best.

When your local congregation knows they can count on your loyalty, your strength, and your capacity to help fulfill the work we’ve all been assigned, something amazing happens. That local church gets stronger and healthier. Through the years, women have typically been more visible in local churches, and certainly their faithful efforts are drenched with value, but a church where men prove faithful can reach a whole different level of effectiveness. Both genders are desperately needed if the church will produce disciples and continue to impact the generations ahead.

That means we need you, guys. Be as loyal to your church as you are to your favorite football team and watch what will happen. Bring the same intensity to worshipping and serving God that you have demonstrated in your military service and there’s no telling how many people your local church might reach. As men, we prize loyalty. So aim that loyalty in enduring directions and watch the impact of your life escalate.

The Brotherhood – Part 174

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

I’m not sure we were made for the indoors.

No, I’m not about to make a case for the naturalist or suggest that we let our beards grow and move to the mountains. But I can’t help but think there’s something important about God creating man and placing him in a garden rather than a high-rise.

When I was a kid, my dad was always sending me outside to play. I was a bit of a bookworm and was generally content to stay indoors with my latest reading project or spend an afternoon reorganizing my baseball card collection. Outside was better, in his mind, ’cause that’s where the neighbor kids and the whiffle-ball games could be found. It took me a while, but I’ve come around to the belief that he was on to something.

If your goal is to be healthy, studies overwhelming show that you’re going to need to get outside a lot. Sunshine, and the apparent vitamins that float into your system through its comforting rays, matters to health. The warmth of the great outdoors replenishes those things that stress and unhealthy life habits tend to sap.

I’ve had a sense of this for a while. As a pastor, I often recommended that the depressed folks I counseled spend more time in the fresh air. Those who carry deep emotional weight often find life brighter when they spend more time in the day’s brightness.

But there’s more than serotonin to gain a sunny day. Most of the best times you’ll spend with your family take place outdoors. Okay…I’m not against bowling and there are several other fun indoor activities, but hiking up a hill is far better for your emotions and a lot more enjoyable than climbing a staircase. Watching, or even playing, a ball game is better out there, and don’t try to tell me that indoor swimming pools are as pleasant as the outdoor variety.

What I’m suggesting is that some fun in the sun is the right prescription for a happy life. Use a couple of pieces of daylight hours to bring its benefits to your perspective, your attitude, and your overall fun level. Be sure the sun shines brightly on your family time and its impact will likely escalate.

So drink your coffee on a park bench tomorrow morning. How ’bout lunch on the restaurant patio. If the temps are below zero, maybe order the hot soup. But get out there! You need some sun and it’ll keep the walls from closing in.

The Brotherhood – Part 173

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Worth the wait?

That’s an interesting idea in modern times. In a culture where speed of response has become a core value and time is the most precious and evaporating asset, the cost of waiting has escalated. We simply don’t pay that price very often.

Last night, I watched my lifelong baseball team emerge from a three decade drought to win a playoff game. My posture went from stunned silence to raucous celebration (I smiled) again and again. And the miracle of text messaging let me share the moments with my sons who sat watching at their distant locales. It was fun, but was it worth the wait?

For a Christian, the idea of waiting is more common than it may be for others, but that doesn’t mean it’s more comfortably achieved. We speak of “waiting on God” as a core value of spiritual life, but the truth is that many don’t. Waiting on anything, even the Supreme Being that has made us and provided eternal life, is just not what it once was.

But…here’s the thing. God rarely exceeds speed limits. In fact, His actions in our lives seldom move at the pace we would prefer. I’m not really referring to twenty-nine years of waiting for Him to give us a good baseball team. I’m thinking mainly of waiting for direction, healing, and provision–issues that prove a bit bigger than baseball. God’s pace doesn’t match our pace–a reality that often has us waiting.

So, most of us don’t. We launch ahead. We engage our own strategies. We do what we know to do and hope that God will join the game in the eighth inning, ultimately scoring our winning run. We just don’t want to wait because most of the time in life we don’t think we should have to.

But God is worth the wait. When we find the capacity to be still so we can let Him make the first move, the road becomes remarkable. The best of life emerges and we find that peace can exist, when we truly let God lead us. You see, God’s timing is never off. He knows exactly the time to move so that every ounce of the best result can be gained. When we wait, we find a life that exceeds our expectations and even our hopes. But when we run ahead and hope God catches up, we end up with much to overcome on our way to some future victory.

So, the point?

Some things are worth the wait…and God always is!

The Brotherhood – Part 172

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

What if your best isn’t good enough?

In our Brotherhood, excellence is one of our four commitments. We want to give our very best to our work, our families, our church, and frankly, every other part of our lives. Good enough really isn’t. Our best is the only goal worth pursuing.

But what if our best isn’t enough? Now, certainly there will be tasks and challenges that exceed us, but the one on my mind today is the idea of righteousness. Fact is, no matter how good we do, we will never be good enough to justify our connection with God.

I think that’s what the rich young ruler was after when he asked Jesus what was needed for eternal life. The guy wanted to gain the ultimate prize so Jesus pointed him in the impossible direction. Though the man insisted that he’d been faithful to God’s commands his entire life, even more was needed. The next step was to sell everything and give it to the poor. Wow! That’s a tough one.

But if he would have done it, what would the next step have been? Would it have been even more challenging? I’m guessing that the full checklist Jesus could have offered would seem almost endless. And then, the guy still wouldn’t have been able to achieve His goal.

Why? Because God is perfect in His holiness. That ship has sailed on us long ago. We can’t ever gain eternal life in our own effort. Instead, we have to admit our unworthiness, lay aside any hope of claiming such life, and decide that a poor peasant from Nazareth can earn this gift for us. We have to admit what we are and what we aren’t, a humble choice that the self-made seldom can make. That’s why Jesus said it would be difficult for the wealthy to enter. Their self-reliance keeps them chasing something they cannot buy.

Honestly, it’s not easy for any of us to be told that we’re not enough. And we sure don’t like hearing that we never will be. But relationship with God starts at the end of ourselves. As long as you think you can, you prevent Him from bringing what you need.

So, yes, we give our best to the life He’s given us, but not so that we can earn something in His presence. Instead, our pursuit of excellence is to demonstrate our thanksgiving for what we’ve been given.

The Brotherhood – Part 171

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

The truth will ultimately be revealed.

Currently, the NFL is embroiled in a enormous controversy as it tries to respond to the domestic violence charges leveled at a its players. In the most prominent case, questions linger over who knew what, when did they know it, and did they respond appropriately. Some have suggested that misinformation and even lying have occurred at the highest levels.

Now, I have no real idea of the facts that will soon be fully revealed, but I am confident that they will be revealed. Why? Because lying doesn’t work in the public eye. There are too many people anxious to reveal the unseemly, to research the deepest and darkest details of situations for lies to endure. If there has been deceit, someone will find out because there is great passion to be the one to break the story by finding such things.

Our culture has become thirsty for the controversial. News today is largely limited to what people want to read and what they want is the juicy stuff. So, those who lie about performance-enhancing drugs will be found out, those who lie about beating their girlfriends will be discovered, those who lie are consistently discovering that they can’t keep the truth buried when so many have shovels.

Now, I’m all for the truth emerging. My point is not to complain about the invasiveness of the media. Instead, I hope you hear me say that it’s foolish to think lies can succeed, not just in the limelight, but in your life as well. The Bible tells us that everything hidden will be revealed, so it makes sense to be careful what you might try to hide. Turn from such behaviors—don’t go there at all! Live a life of truth and you won’t have to worry too much about the dirt-diggers.

Lying is a complex way to live. It often requires the lies to multiply in order to keep one hidden, and when you are exposed, trust is wisely removed. Don’t let lies ultimately compromise the best relationships of your life. Live well and you won’t have to lie to keep your failures hidden.

The Brotherhood – Part 169

September 3, 2014 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Surprise!

That’s the look I saw on the man’s face when I held out the ballpoint pen he had dropped a few moments earlier. I had watched a few seconds of his effort to juggle several books and a coffee cup while simultaneously trying to bend down to grab the fifty-cent writing utensil. So I thought I’d help him out. No big deal, right?

But the look on his face seemed larger than my tiny act of kindness. His gratitude flowed in words of appreciation, as if I had just rescued his children from a burning building. Sure, I mumbled and headed down the corridor toward my awaiting flight.

It seems that some folks aren’t expecting simple acts of kindness to touch their lives very often. Maybe the world has become the cruel place some think it to be. I know that randomly smiling at people or speaking a simple “Good morning” to someone in a hospital hallway can bring a smile that hadn’t been seen for days.

Kindness cures many things.

What would happen if each of us looked for one opportunity to show kindness every single day? Now, obviously, we’d like to do better than one a day, but many of us live at such a focused speed that pausing to intentionally be kind might prove a radical change in our lives.

I have learned that behaviors create attitudes. In other words, after you have been kind to a few dozen people, you can’t help but be a kinder person. And that seems like a good thing to become.

So this week, look for a chance to show kindness to someone. Maybe you’ll want to be generous to a friend or family member or it could be that a stranger gets the benefit of your new effort. But do something helpful for a few people this week and see if you can’t brighten their days by a shade or two. I know you’ll brighten your own.

And, you may really surprise them!

The Brotherhood – Part 168

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence.Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Choices are the great challenge of life—two possible paths, two roads with their separate consequences or destinations. How to choose? Consider a few thoughts:
 
  1. Destinations

When you make a decision, whether it’s a new career move, a significant new direction, or even a simple behavioral choice, a wise man will consider the destination such a choice leads to. Every decision in life has a destination. Whatever steps you take will always be followed by another step and then another. Soon you have a journey that was launched by that initial decision and that road is taking you somewhere. For example, if you make sinful choices, yielding to the temptations that Satan may bring your way, you won’t be on the path to God’s best. That destination requires decisions of obedience to God’s truth. Every road is headed somewhere.

  1. Sensibilities

Another consideration when making a decision is whether or not the choice will help me be at my best. Some behavior choices weaken us—they make us more susceptible to mistakes. I’ve counseled many folks who opened a few behavioral doors only to find themselves making other choices that messed up their lives. Someone has wisely said that “Sin will make you stupid.” That may seem harsh, but repeated choices away from God’s best path have a way of reshaping our view of reality and causing us to choose against things we once valued.

  1. Hunger

One of the best decision-making tools I know is the hunger test. When considering two options, ask yourself, “What will each choice reveal about my heart?” If I go this direction, is it for money or some form of gratification? Which choice would one make who is truly hungering for closeness to God? If I make choices that reveal my own desire for excellence and pursuit of God, those will likely prove to be my best choices.

How do you make your daily decisions? Every one of them truly do matter, so give your best to making the decisions that will ultimately shape your life’s journey.