Mar 01

300 Posts!

Number300The last post was number 300!  Wow!  I began blogging in November 2012.  I have tried to consistently blog each week.  The goal was three a week, but I have actually averaged a little less.

Here are some of my thoughts on blogging after 300 posts!

  1. I am grateful to the readers.  Writing is good for me personally.  It causes me to think and clarify my own thoughts.  It leaves a journal and record of some events for our family, but I primarily write because I have a message I want to share with others.  You write because you want to be read!  So I appreciate everyone who has taken time to read a post, because I know there is so much competing in this world for your attention and time.  For you to take time to read my post, is a compliment.
  2. Titles and social media drive the traffic to the blog.  I began learning early on that titles are very important for folks choosing to read your post.  Just like with newspaper articles, the headline makes a tremendous difference.  This connects well with social media because the title must interest the person scrolling their news feed for them to click and go read.  By far, most of my readers have come from Facebook.
  3. The challenge is writing consistently.  Most bloggers start off writing regularly, then slowly slip into irregularly and often seldom post.  This happens because it is tough to write weekly.  I could not do it if it was not a part of my regular work flow.  I do it as part of my ministry, and I prioritize it above other things I could be doing.  Not only is it hard to find the time, but sometimes it is hard to have the content.  Even though I keep a list of possible topics, I sometimes don’t have anything to write.
  4. Don’t get caught up in who does and doesn’t read your blog!  I learned early on that most folks which I have a personal relationship with would not read the blog regularly.  That is fine, I probably wouldn’t read theirs that regularly if they did one.  In fact, I struggle to keep up with blogs that I really like and benefit much from.  So don’t be discouraged and certainly don’t let it affect your relationship with others.
  5. Blogs typically have a slow steady growth, and mine has reflected this truth.  I have seen this happen over the 2 and half years.  While I had one post that went far beyond everything else, the typical pattern of slow steady growth is what the blog has seen in traffic numbers.
  6. People care about the church.  While people don’t read straight Bible teaching posts that well, there is still a hunger for posts about the church.  I find this encouraging that people want to know more about the church and are concerned about the future of the church.  I plan on trying to write more about the church in the future.
  7. Finally, after 300 posts, let me say that WordPress and BlueHost have been great.  I am thankful I chose Bluehost as a provider and WordPress as the platform.  Wordpress is easy to use and works well.  If you are thinking about blogging or getting a website, definitely consider them.

Once again thanks for joining me on the ride, whether it is for one post or all 300 I wouldn’t do this if you weren’t there!

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Feb 24

The Church is Not About You!

Posse by Rubenshito at

Posse by Rubenshito at

Often the church’s sells pitch today to church-lookers  focuses on all the church can do for them.

Come here because we have an active youth program, daycare ministry, a wonderful preacher who gives challenging, practical sermons, great music, and great small groups ministry where you can make lots of friends.

This is what our consumer-driven society has demanded from churches trying to “compete” in this culture.  

This is the trap that most churches have fallen into in their outreach efforts.  This approach becomes translated as “the church is about you.”  What this leads to is church-goers with little commitment, who are with the congregation for what it can give them.  This methodology does not make disciples of Christ.

Why don’t we instead use this sell’s pitch:  “The church is not about you!”  The church is really about something far greater and bigger than you!  When you become a part of the church, Christ’s blood-bought body on earth, you share in the greatest work on earth.¹  You get to participate in the only truly eternal work in all the world.  You fight the ageless conflict between good and evil doing battle with the forces of darkness in this world.  You get to be part of God’s family on earth, which gives you people to love and people to love you.  You are able to fulfill your created purpose through work and service with the Lord’s people, representing the Lord’s body everywhere you go.²

You see the church is not about you!  Now don’t misunderstand, you will be blessed beyond measure on earth and receive the salvation of your soul eternally, but it is not just about you!  It is about something far greater than just you, it is about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, His eternal Word, and the salvation of a lost and dying world.  You have a life to give and cross to bear.³  

People don’t give their lives for good programs and dynamic preachers, people give their lives for the cause of Christ!  Don’t try to peddle the gospel through human methods, let’s keep the focus on Christ and Him crucified (2 Cor. 2:17).


¹  See some of these passages to learn about the importance of the church.  Matthew 16:16-19; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:21-23; 2:13-22; 3:10; 5:22-33;

²  See my lesson on the The Importance of the Church for more information.

³  The original thought for this post came from an illustration I read some time back and have used on multiple occasions in a sermon and blog post by Chris Altrock.  You can find it here.

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Feb 22

Farm Report # 6: Reflecting on the first year

I have not given a farm report since September.  I wanted to give an update on the farm and share some reflections on our first year.

Our Dexter cows always love to watch what we are doing.

Our Dexter cows always love to watch what we are doing.

1.  We have been very pleased with how much of a blessing the farm has been for the kids.  We thought that Austin our oldest may not like the animals as much as the others, but he has loved the farm.  He loves to work and likes to have a purpose.  He loves to go out each day and feed the animals.  We don’t have much permanent fencing so we have used temporary electrical fencing.  We have moved the animals throughout the land to eat the stockpiled grass through the winter.  Austin has learned so much about fencing and enjoys the task of laying out a new fence.  Overall the kids have learned so much and done well with the work.

The kids showing the newborn lamb born in December.

The kids showing the newborn lamb born in December.

2.  The challenge of the farm has been the constant work and demands.  We enjoy the work and fun overall, but sometimes it is just plain inconvenient.  We live about 10-12 minutes from the farm, so it is often difficult to get out to the farm everyday.  Most of the time we are able to go just once a day, but it has been a sacrifice for Amanda at times as I am gone from home more because of the farm.  But we are determined to get a house on the farm soon, because we cannot enjoy the full farm experience with the kids until we get moved out there.  We often have to just stop by and feed them as fast as possible.

The Blackbelly Sheep herd, We added a Ram to the herd.

The Blackbelly Sheep herd, We added a Ram to the herd.

3.  We don’t know what we are doing, but we have learned a ton.  We have relied on others and gone with the basic rule of “they are still alive, so we are doing okay.”  I have learned much about fencing and Amanda has learned she doesn’t like fencing because it is never finished.  We have learned pigs have lots of personality and a well-deserved reputation of making a mess and enjoying to eat.

The kids have got experience busting water!

The kids have got experience busting water!

4.  The Winter has its challenges, but also its blessings.  We have had a mild winter overall, with some times of freezing weather like this last week with almost a foot of snow.  Some things I have liked about winter is the slower pace.  The shorter hours, colder temperatures, and overall less to do make your work less.  The animals and us like that the flies and pests are gone.  The crisp temperatures and frozen ground have a quiet, clean feeling that I enjoy.

We added two girl pigs.  We hope to have some piglets this year.  These are American Guinea Hogs.

We added two girl pigs. We hope to have some piglets this year. These are American Guinea Hogs.

5.  We got a lot accomplished, though it seemed slow through the process.  We started 2014 with no electricity, the barn needing repairs and lights, a non-functing well, very little permanent fencing, and no animals.  It seemed like it went slow, and we never got to work very much in consecutive hours with four kids and our church work.  But through help of others, patience, and determined effort we got a lot done looking back on it.  I am going to try and remember this when I feel like I am not getting much done, but have a lot I “need” to do.

Our young bull is growing and looking good.  His name is Abraham - "father of many"

Our young bull is growing and looking good. His name is Abraham – “father of many”

We added Jack the cat to the barn to try and control the mice population.

We added Jack the cat to the barn to try and control the mice population.

Red - She is the boss of the farm and a hay addict.

Red – She is the boss of the farm and a hay addict.

Thanks for reading!

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Feb 19

Thinking about God while Singing Lullabies to Caleb

Our Sweet Caleb

Our Sweet Caleb

For the last year I have put Caleb, our youngest down to sleep each night.  Don’t think I am the greatest dad ever, I probably wouldn’t do this every night if he didn’t do better for me than Amanda.  You see, he likes her more!  This really isn’t up for debate, in fact, he likes her so much he doesn’t want her to leave!  So since he was small, I have put him down.  Having multiple children requires parents sharing the load, so I have often put the baby down to sleep while Amanda gets the older ones to bed.

I cherish this time, though I often do not like dragging it out because I am tired at the end of the day.  Caleb has to have all of his items.  He is a bit of a hoarder.  He has two small blankies, a paci (I know it is about time to go, but he goes to sleep so well with it), his bear, sometimes a sheep or Elmo, and sometimes Brooke’s blankies.  Both of our arms are full!  We always read one or two small books.  He turns out the lights and then we will rock for a couple of minutes before I lay him down.  He is not allowed to get back up.  After I lay him down, he wants me to hold his hand and sing to him.

Yes, that is right, he likes me to sing to him.  So either during the rocking or after I lay him down I sing to him two songs, Jesus Loves Me and Amazing Grace.  There is something about Caleb and Amazing Grace.  It has always been his lullaby song.  I think it was his aunt Ashley who figured this out when he was very small.  You could sing Jesus Loves Me and he would keep on a crying and fighting sleep.  But you could sing the old classic song Amazing Grace and he would calm down and go to sleep in your arms.

As I was singing these songs last night, it occurred to me, “He likes my singing.”  I have always been knowingly self-deceived into believing I sung my best when in the darkness of my kids room singing lullabies.  But I know I really don’t sound any better, than my normal can’t-carry-a-tune-in-a-bucket self!  But I have never had one kid complain.  I think it is because I am their father.  It is not about the tune, but it is about the comfort and love which they feel.

This made me think two thoughts about our relationships with our Heavenly Father.  First, it encouraged me as a singer to God.  I know I am not a great singer, I struggle to keep the rhythm and stay on tune, but God listens to my heart.  Just like my kids listen not with their ears, judging my performance, but with their hearts.  So the Lord listens to hear if I love Him and am deeply desiring to praise His Holy Name.  Second, it caused me to ask do I listen and take comfort when God “sings over me.”  Ryan Scherer, our song leader, has lead the song When the Night is Falling some at 7 Oaks.  It has these lyrics about God singing this to us as Christians:

When the night would hide my way…
I will listen until I hear you say,

“How I love you child! I love you!
How I love you child! I love you!
How I love you!”

“How I love you child! I love you!
How I love you child! I love you!
How I love you!”¹

Now, I don’t believe I audibly can hear those words sung over me, but I do believe by faith and through His word I can hear his love and care.  When I am insecure and restless, not wanting to lay down and sleep, I can listen to my Father singing his song of love, care, and mercy.  Just like Caleb, says in such a sweet 2 year old voice “sing me a song” when he has just laid down, so I can find strength and comfort in listening to my Father’s voice in a world of such chaos.

Brooke Reading to Caleb one day before nap.  He was tired!!

Brooke Reading to Caleb one day before nap. He was tired!!

Caleb came to our bed the other morning and slept in with daddy!  I loved this rare moment.

Caleb came to our bed the other morning and slept in with daddy! I loved this rare moment.


¹  Lyrics found at

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Feb 17

Returning Back: Speaking to Teachers at My High School

I was into my talk to the teachers!

I was into my talk to the teachers!

I was blessed with a unique opportunity last Friday of returning to my old school.  I attended 1st grade through senior year at South Pemiscot school in Steele, Missouri.  My 1st cousin’s husband was the president of the teacher’s association.  They had an inservice for teachers of all grades and he asked me to share some stories as an alumni and a motivational message to them.

It was a really enjoyable experience.  I was blessed to be able to take Amanda and the kids with me, who got up early to go to Missouri.  The kids went to my parents while Amanda stayed to be with me at the teacher’s assembly.  We enjoyed breakfast with the teachers and then I got to speak.

What Surprised Me:

The most surprising aspect of the day was the tremendous change over in the teachers from when I was in school.  I don’t know why this surprised me.  I graduated in 1994, so I have been gone over 20 years, thus it was mostly all new teachers.  I began by telling them, I should be talking to the retired teacher’s association, because they were actually in the stories and my “thank you” was aimed at them, but I hoped my thoughts about my teachers could inspire present teachers.

What I Shared with Them:

I shared some stories that I remembered through the years.  Little anecdotes that you wonder why you remember, but say something because you do.  Some humorous stories from my time in school.  But I had two key themes, one from the stories and one as a lesson.  The point from the stories was their significant role in influencing and shaping the values and education of the next generation.  How their work is not so much about the content they teach, but about who they are and the students they are shaping.  The closing lesson is one I got from Andy Stanley and have used in various situations.  It comes from the question, “What do you do when you are the most powerful person in the room?”  The Biblical text is Jesus washing the disciples feet in John 13.  The answer is what all great leaders, parents, teachers, and servants have always done, they choose to leverage their power for the good of everyone in the room.  They choose to serve, love, and give to those who are under their influence.

How I was Blessed:

I was blessed to be encouraged by a few of my past teachers who were so kind and complimentary.  I am glad I had the opportunity to say thank you and encourage teachers in their great work.  I was also able to see some classmates and family.  It was good to go back to my old stomping grounds and see where I spent so much time and share some memories with Amanda.  Finally, we were blessed to enjoy a visit and meal with mom and dad before heading back to Ky.

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Feb 11

Finding Time for Romance with Kids

family time by simmbarbMost surveys done on marital happiness indicate a sharp decline after kids come along.  But this is not always the case and doesn’t have to be!    While kids bring lots of challenges, they are also an incredible blessing.

I have four children; all 10 and below.  We are in zone coverage and still can’t keep up with all the work there is to be done.  Just feeding and clothing four kids regularly takes a lot of work.  But I love my wife more now than I did when #1 came along.  Our satisfaction has continued to increase and we are thankful for the opportunity to raise children.

We have our times that are real struggles, and these are often exacerbated by the stress of children, but we are incredibly blessed.

The key is remembering you have to prioritize the marriage.  The marriage requires constant maintenance. We live in a society that elevates children so much, that the parenting responsibility often takes a back-seat to  spousal commitments.  Besides loving the Lord, the greatest thing you can do for your kids is have a strong marriage.  So we often need to prioritize it above the kids.  We have to build this priority into our daily flow of life.

Here are 7 times which can help keep the romance alive with kids.  

  1. Morning Time –  The time before you start your day can set the rest of your day up for good feelings.  Set the alarm a few minutes early for some sleepy cuddle time.  When you wake up give a hug or share a sweet word.
  2. Leaving Time – When you are leaving each other in the morning pause to say goodbye.  Share a quick kiss, give a hug, and communicate any important details before you leave.
  3. Arriving Time – When you come back together after being apart, the first thing you should do is find each other.  You may have lots of chores to do, kids needing this or that, but seek each other out and greet one another.  Do a quick check-up to make sure everything is okay, share a few kind words, and then get back to the duties.
  4. Meal Time – Just as meal times are important for the family, they are also important for the marriage.  Prioritize sitting down and eating together.  This builds communication and helps you learn about one another’s day.  You may have to tell the kids, wait a minute, I am talking to your mom.  But eating together fosters family commitment and bonds.
  5. Service Time – The added work of kids is what often pulls at the marriage relationship.  Why not join hands and pull the load together.  Throughout the day it is the little acts of service you do for one another which communicate love and priority.  Make her coffee before leaving for work.  Empty and load the dishwasher while she fixes a meal.  Work on folding laundry together.  Kids do require more work, so each spouse has to step up in their service and work for the family and one another.
  6. Bed Time
    1. KIDS – One of the most important things you can do for your marriage is have a regularly scheduled bedtime for your kids.  Dad and mom need a break from the kids and time for each other!  We have often joked that we will be worn out trying to get the kids to bed, but rejuvenated once the door is shut.  Bedtime allows for you to have some personal time and couple time.  Try to do something together, like watch a favorite show or raid the pantry together eating food!
    2. YOURS – Not only is the kids bedtime important, but also you going to bed together is important.  The communication and connection which is afforded when you go through your nightly routine and go to bed together is so rich.  Strong couples regularly point out how significant this pillow talk time is for their intimacy.  Read a chapter of the Bible, have a prayer, and talk about your lives.
  7. Special Time – By “special” time I am referring to those rare occasions when you have the opportunity to do things without kids.  Date nights, no matter if they are once every 2 to 3 months can be very important.  Anniversary trips, Christmas shopping days, and birthdays are all special times which allow us to prioritize our marriage.  By the way, I think there is one of those special days coming up this Saturday.  Don’t miss it!

What other “times” would you add that help keep the romance alive in your marriage?

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Feb 08

A Biblical Picture of Pornography

revelationThis past weekend 50 Shades of Grey movie was released.  A new movie based on the book.  The three-book series has sold over 100 million copes worldwide.  But it is known for its erotic theme.  This movie and book just represent our culture’s growing indulgence of sexually-charged material.  Pornography is a huge problem in our culture occurring in various forms.  It dominates the internet and is easily available in video.

How does the Bible picture pornography?

In Revelation 17, the great prostitute is described.  Notice this description:

““Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”  (Revelation 17:1–6 ESV)

The greek root of porneia is found 5 times in this text.  It is where we get our word pornography and refers to any illicit sexual sin.  Notice that Jesus describes this prostitute as beautiful and extremely appealing.  She is arrayed in the finest and wealthiest clothing of the day.  She has precious jewels adorning her while drinking from a golden cup.

Though in the context of Revelation this vision has a greater meaning, this is an accurate picture of pornography today.  It is a wealthy industry with revenue in the billions.  It obviously looks appealing and beautiful in fleshly appearance.  It entices and temps like this great prostitute of Revelation.

Yet, when we look a little closer at Jesus’ picture, we see that the golden cup is actually filled with the blood of the saints.  If we continue to read we will learn that this prostitute will suffer defeat at the hands of Jesus.

When I consider movies like 50 Shades of Grey, internet pornography, magazines, and adult films today it reminds me of this picture.  They look appealing from the outside, but they will cost  people their blood!  Pornography costs children their innocence, men their families, wives their true acceptance, and can motivate child sexual abuse, rape, and murder.  And chiefly it is costing people their souls.  Our society is paying a heavy toll for its seduction by the great prostitute!

Christians must be aware.  Parents must be on guard.  We must see pornography for what it is, before we are enticed by her and have our own blood spilt at the alter of sin.

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Feb 06

Leadership, Position, and Influence in the Church

Leadership 1 - by svilen001 - at free

Leadership 1 – by svilen001 – at free

John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence–nothing more, nothing less.”¹  A leader is able to influence others to follow his course.  In a world filled with competition and desire for influence, we often believe that position gives influence.

We aspire to a position, believing it will give us influence.  While there is some truth to this belief, true leadership is not about the position.  How many political leaders have had a position, but no influence and thus they lost their leadership ability.  Military generals can give orders and require obedience, but soldiers will either ridicule them or be blindly loyal to them once they are gone based upon their influence.

When you read through the qualifications of elders and deacons in the church in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 this principle appears woven through the text.  For example, a shepherd must be “above reproach,” not a “recent convert,” and someone “well thought of by outsiders.”  The deacons are instructed to hold the faith with a “clear conscience” and to be “tested first” then serving as a deacon after proving themselves.

The Spirit is teaching some valuable lessons for church leadership in these passages. 

  • Don’t appoint a man expecting him to gain influence because he has the position.
  • Don’t be a man aspiring appointment for selfish gain, power, and influence.
  • Choose to be a man of Christian virtue and servanthood so that you have influence to make a kingdom difference.

Leadership is influence!  It is not about the position.  This should give hope to those who have not been selected for whatever reason in their local church.  You don’t need the position to make a difference for the cause of Christ.  Keep your head down and be a servant.  Often times some of the most influential people in the church are those who do not hold a position.  Consider how influential godly women are in the church.  We all can think of  men who did the work of a deacon, in terms of service for the church, but did not have the title because they were not qualified.  Yet these men often have more influence for good than those who have the title and do little work.

Before ending, let me add that preachers should remember this truth as well.  A preacher may have the position in the church, but not the influence.  This is why the preacher should work hard from the day he is hired to be a caring servant.  It is also why a preacher must be assessing his respect and influence as he conducts a longterm ministry.  Once a powerful influence is gone, you need to be making plans for a new work.  Or else you end up being a leader with a position who looks back and no one is following.

What other lessons for the church can you share that come from this principle?


¹ John Maxwell – p. 17 – “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”

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Feb 02

Russell Wilson Won’t Be Defined by 1 Moment and You Shouldn’t Either

Wikipedia - Russell Wilson

Wikipedia – Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, came to a key crossroads in his life over the last 24 hours after losing the Super Bowl when he threw a goal line interception in the final minute.  He had led his team down the field and they were within 1 yard of scoring a touchdown.  I, like all the rest of the world, thought they would run the ball into the end zone with quite possibly the best running back in football.  But they didn’t!  For some reason, they called a passing play on 2nd down.  Wilson threw a pick and the game was over.  A bad call, maybe the worst in Super Bowl history.  A bad throw and bad decision by Wilson.  The whole game came down to that one play.  The winner was determined in that one moment of time.  One man will live as a hero, Malcolm Butler, who jumped the passing route and got the interception, while another player will live in the horrible regret of that one play.  

Yet, Russell Wilson is a man of faith and in this instance a man of good perspective.

Today he tweeted several statements.  He first tweeted, “I will love You, O LORD, my strength. (Psalms 18:1 NKJV)”

Later he tweeted:  “At 26 years old I won’t allow 1 play or 1 moment define my career, I will keep evolving. #Motivation”

When I heard about this tweet I thought how all of us need this same perspective to the mistakes we make.  Our mistakes may not be in front of the world in a Super Bowl, but they are often for all to see and bring us lots of shame.  Truthfully, they are bigger than a sporting mistake, because they involve sin, which hurts God and can cost our soul.  In many ways we can allow one poor decision we made years ago to be defining us now.

But we don’t have to be defined by the past, because of Christ.  This is the glory of the gospel.  This is the power of forgiveness.  We can move on to the future.  We are cleansed by the power of the blood of Christ.  Our value, worth, and identity are taken from Christ, not our sins!  We are a new creation.

Don’t let your past failures define you.  Learn from them and move on to new opportunities.

What are you letting define your life?  Turn to Jesus for a new birth and let Him define you!

See my post on this same topic entitled:  The Past Shapes You, But Should Not Define You.


Article on his tweets.


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Jan 28

Who Gets the Credit?

Success Way by Dinny at

Success Way by Dinny at

Who gets the credit?

This question is seldom vocalized, but often unconsciously on the mind of everyone.

Sports teams struggle with the question.

Church leaders struggle with the question.

Preachers secretly ask themselves, “will I get the credit?” when this succeeds.

Elders just wonder why the preacher gets the credit and they get the blame!

Husbands and wives have many fights over this issue.  Typically it is more along the lines of “Why didn’t you give me credit?”

Church members leave and go to another church because they asked the question, they felt they should be the answer to the question, yet they were overlooked.  They were under-appreciated.

Diotrephes, of John’s 3rd epistle, knew the answer to the question.  It was himself who deserved the credit, and when others didn’t answer it properly he put them out of the church.

I am reminded of a story about a lion going through the jungle asking various animals who is the greatest in all the land.  The monkey said, “You are oh king of the jungle.”  The lion turns to the zebra, who answers likewise to the question.  Finally the lion turns to the elephant.  He asks the elephant, “Who is the greatest in all the land?”  The elephant promptly picks up the lion with his big trunk and slams the lion to the ground.  The lion dusts himself off and looks up to the elephant and says, “well, you didn’t have to be upset if you didn’t know the answer.”

I often find myself asking the question in some form, “Who gets the credit?”  It all revolves around selfishness and jealousy.  It is the same issue the disciples were fighting over during Jesus’ ministry.  It is the same issue most churches fight over regularly.  It is the issue that causes problems for most families.  It is pride, plain and simple!

Michael Hyatt in one of his podcasts said, “a real leader isn’t focused on who gets the credit, but on making a difference.”  This is the attitude that Christians should have.

Jesus said, “Whoever would be first among you must be your slave.”  (Mat. 20:27).

May God help us to stop ourselves when we are asking ourselves these questions.  Help us to focus on making a kingdom difference, rather than ourselves getting the credit.  


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