New Years has come and went; so are the resolutions many of us do not keep. Perhaps you made some resolutions, maybe not. Either way, I want to encourage you to restart by doing what I have done the past few years: choose a one-word goal.
In 2015, I did my first one-word goal by choosing to focus on hope. That year I learned a lot about hope, I gained a strong foundation on the topic, and I have since built on the theological virtue.
Following hope, in 2017 my word was peace. Unintentionally peace has been my one-word goal for the past two years because I took multiple years to develop a solid foundation with the word. Now that there is a solid foundation, there is also room for peace to grow in my heart, which I look forward to explaining in future posts.
In 2019, however, it’s time to transition from the one-word goal of peace towards the foundation of a new one-word goal: The theological virtue, faith.
Faith became my 2019 one-word goal after watching a montage of Billy Graham videos. At one point in the video, in his famous North Carolina draw, Graham addresses Phil Donahue with these words, Continue reading “My One-Word Goal For 2019”
In 2015 I did not set any New Year’s Resolutions. Rather, I chose to focus on a “One-Word Goal” for that year; The word was hope. Over 2015 I focused on hope in a variety of areas. I read books on hope; I changed my view towards things, and I eliminated many influences that were negative. In other words, it was a success.
Despite the success, I didn’t set a “One-Word Goal” for 2016 due to some traumatic events at the end of last year. Fortunately, the transition from 2016 to 2017 are more hopeful (not pun intended), and I’m able to set a new “One-Year Goal” for 2017. My goal is simply, peace. Continue reading “No Resolution, But My One Word Goal For 2017: Peace”
“Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself.” (Proverbs 26:4)
During my undergraduate degree one professor gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me for years. He said, “Don’t get into a peeing contest with a skunk because if you do you’re sure to get some on you.” This semi-grotesque statement has a simple truth to it, which is, there are some debates, arguments, and conversations that are not worth having, especially in public. Sadly, too many Christians I see on social media have yet to learn this lesson. As some of the worst Christian disagreements occur publicly on social media.
For example, too many Christian bloggers attack each other over semantics and nit-picky issues when we really have more in common in Christ. This type of public arguing does little to convince our critics from the culture. In fact, this confusion begins to make them ask,
“Do we know what love looks like”
“If they can’t love another then how can they love those who are not Christians?”
Therefore, we need to stop being foolish by not airing our sharp disagreement out in public. Rather we need to wisely discern to handle things in a private chat, phone call, or otherwise. In other words, we must consider the consequences and results from how we handle our differences. This is because Jesus prayed in John 17:23-25: Continue reading “Christians Should Praise In Public & Criticize in Private”
“A hopeful person can never be critical!”
The above quote is the view many people have when they think of someone who is hopeful or optimistic. In truth, it’s an inaccurate view because we all critique things from time-to-time. Also, there is a difference between being critical and giving a critique. Here’s one example to show the difference.
“Some of the pastoral visits I see in the hospital break my heart…Clinical ministry is significantly different from congregational ministry and you must be prepared. For example, why wear gloves but not a gown in a contact precaution room? By not complying you are putting yourself, your member, and the entire community at risk! Beating someone up because there is “too much sin” in a person’s life is not particularly helpful either! If you want to be trained, I offer a 12-hour course that’s coming up that will introduce you to the basics!”
This example is from Chaplain Scott Fleming who began with a criticism, yet ended his comments with a hopeful critique. See, Scott begun by being critical to state a problem. Then he offered a viable solution. As a result, his solution became the hope for the problem. In other words, he did not leave his criticism unresolved because he knew the only way to return to hope is to provide a viable alternative.
This is the difference between a critique and a criticism. A criticism alone tears down and rushes to judgment. However, a critique gives a brief criticism to graciously offer a hope to fix the negative situation. Being gracious is a key point. Not only does it help one to be better heard, but also by being gracious the critic is looking to be hopeful than judgmental. They are seeking to redirect life’s flaws towards a better hope than to retain the flaws they see. Continue reading “Hopeful Tip #1: Redirecting Negativity”
“We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” (Hebrews 6:19, HCSB)
Last week, I posted an article about New Years Resolutions and how we should turn them into one-word goals than instant changes. By doing so we will have more results. As a result, today I want to share with you my one-word goal for 2015, which is, “hope.”
The reason I chose hope for 2015 is because it builds on my one-word goal in 2014, which was “grace.” In 2014 I continued on a journey of understanding practical and common grace better than I ever had before. In fact, 2014’s goal really began in November of 2013 when I hit a personal low over Thanksgiving weekend.
The months leading up to this weekend were extremely stressful for me. Some of it was self-induced, some it was not. Either way, the combined pressure of nearly losing my job, being apart of a mentoring process aimed to stretch me, a family conflict, and putting pride in my accomplishments caused me to realize a change was needed. As Tullian Tchividjian writes in his devotional, It is Finished,
“The grace of God always prevails. When we finally come to the end of ourselves, there it will be. There He will be. Just as He will be the next time we come to the end of ourselves, and the time after that, and the time after that.” Continue reading “My One-Word Goal For 2015”
Today I begin an ongoing blog series called, “Photography Fridays.” Each Friday I will publish a reflective-inspirational style post from photographs I have taken, which is a recent hobby I’ve adopted as an attempt for of artistic expression. So I anticipate this will be a work in progress. In the meantime, these photos will involve organic images within creation that I have found to be inspirational, and I want to share their inspiration with you. Together, my hope is that we can visibly see the Creator at work, enjoy His beauty, and appreciate that His creation is indeed glorious and filled with works of art each day. With this brief explanation, I’ll now share my first picture.
Originally this random set of steps led to a pier on Smith Lake in North Alabama, and to some could serve as an eyesore. But as I reflected on them I realized they still had meaning left in them. I felt the rocks and the grass around the steps provided a contrast between hope and despair. They reminded me of the typical conflict between “being in the valley of the shadow of death” and resting in “green pastures.” Also, the steps themselves may look like a barrier between the two landscapes at first, but in reality they are bridge between the two areas. Therefore, in our lives the path to rescue from our adverse times to moments of contentment are just a few steps away. They key is to acknowledge that our obstacles in life may actually be paths of opportunity than walls of imprisonment.
Continue reading “Photography Fridays: The Step to Greener Pastures Is Closer Than We Think.”
Unless you have avoided the news or only focused on the Malaysian Flight 370 reports then you know that Russian has advanced on Crimea. Due to additional news events, reports, and fears this has caused many to believe that Russia is not finished. There is a concern that Russia will advance on other countries in order to rebuild itself to its previous glory before the nation fell in 1991.
Also, many Christians have wondered if this is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. For example, a few weeks ago an article titled Vladimir Putin: The Rise of God and the Prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 circulated around the Internet and social media, which you can read by clicking here. Naturally, the essay caused many debates, discussions, and concerns among many Christians. The interest should not be surprising because there is a natural fear with Russia’s actions. Personally, I believe we must be careful and not respond to fear because it is an inferior source of inspiration when compared to love. So my advice about interpreting Russia’s movements as biblical prophecy is that we need to be very careful because God’s love is far greater than the fears from the world. Continue reading “The Rise of Gog or the Power of the Gospel?”