The Easy Yoke

My-yokeCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30, NIV

Lately, I have been contemplating these words of Jesus! What a wonderful invitation He gives to those who were burdened by the religious practices of His day! It’s an invitation to rest, to cease striving, to trust in Him. To the weary and burdened, Jesus states that the easy yoke begins with Him. It begins with a right understanding of spirituality. For as Dallas Willard states, “Spirituality wrongly understood is a major source of human misery and rebellion towards God.”

In Jesus’ day if we measured spiritual maturity based on spiritual activity, then the Pharisees would have won every time. Yet, it was the Pharisees boundary markers that were tiresome, for the Pharisees had a burdensome yoke of self-righteousness and legalistic law-keeping.

So what does it mean to go through life and not be burdened? To fully experience what Jesus talks about in this verse. Well here are a few thoughts…

  1. The easy yoke involves a life of training, not trying! Paul spoke of this in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 when he states, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” Training is simply the means by which I live by grace. Wesley spoke of “means of grace.” If we are going to be experience the easy yoke, we need to arrange our lives around the person of Jesus, reflecting His character and commitments. We enter into training to win an imperishable wreath. Luke 6:40 says, “no disciple is above the master, but every disciple, when fully trained, will be like his master.” Train yourself into godliness. The easy yoke is a life of training (not just trying) to be like Jesus.
  2. The easy yoke begins with joy! One must arrange their day, so that they experience contentment and joy. But what if you have a problem with joylessness? How do we do that? Do you just try harder to be joyful? Does that work? How do you train for joy? One thought…have you ever noticed how many ‘holidays’ there are in the Old Testament? There were countless feasts! All which caused the people to pause, remember and celebrate God’s goodness. These trained people for joy. So go eat great food! Arrange your life to remember God’s faithfulness and goodness in the land of the living. As Dallas Willard puts it, “You must arrange your life so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy and confidence in your own everyday life with God.”
  3. The easy yoke is finding my worth and identification in who I am and not what I am doing! If this is true, than we don’t have to carry upon ourselves the burden of outcomes! Let’s face it, we are “human beings” not “human doings”. Our worth is based on God’s love and what He says is true of us. It’s not based on what we do. As believers in Christ, we are deeply loved. We are totally forgiven. We are absolutely complete in Christ. Therefore, I don’t have to do anything to make God love me more. He loves me completely, for His love isn’t based on what I do, but whose I am!

To experience the easy yoke, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our life. Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Therefore, we must train ourselves to be spiritual, not out of a sense of obligation, but in realizing that this training is the means, and not the end, to truly living the life God intended. 

What to Do When Looking for a Job

Looking-for-a-job-onlineThe past week I rifled through a bunch of resumes in the search for a new Women’s Ministry Leader. I’ve done this search once before, when I was the Executive Pastor at Lakeside Church, but in the process of looking through the resumes, I was reminded of the many common mistakes people make in the process of applying for jobs. So, in an effort to help out a few folks, here is my list of things to avoid or do when applying for a job.

  1. Spell the Hiring Managers Name Correctly – In your email or cover letter, make sure to spell your potential supervisor’s name correctly. People take pride in their name and a misspelling of their name shows that you haven’t done your research and don’t pay attention to detail.
  2. Make Sure Your Career Objective Matches the Desired Position – If you’re applying for a Women’s Ministry Position and your resume says that your “career objective” is to be a registered nurse, than who am I to stop you from being a nurse? If you really want the job, take the time to match your career objective to the desired position.
  3. List Your Volunteer Involvements – If you’re making a career move and your professional experience doesn’t match up with the position, take time to supplement your resume with volunteer opportunities showing experience and proven success as a volunteer in your desired field.
  4. Complete the Job Packet – There’s a reason that a potential employer is asking you to submit a cover letter, resume and job application. They want to know if you can follow instructions and get a look at your work. Incomplete job applications, or missing documents speak volumes.
  5. Add Personal Touches – Stand out in the pack and put a little of you in the process. Whether it’s a photo, adding a creative touch on your resume, or doing some creative writing on your cover letter, these touches go a long way to grab attention.
  6. Go The Extra Mile – Without giving away all my secrets, I was super impressed that one gal took time to interact with me on Social Media. She left comments on my blog and interacted with me on my Facebook account. In doing so, she showed me that she had some social media savvy. Another gal showed up to church to check it out. All these touches, show your level of interest in the position and give your potential supervisor the opportunity to see another side of you.

Certainly there are many other things I could add to this list, but these were just some of the common mistakes I noticed in many of the applicants. Hopefully they will be helpful to you in your next job search.

Best Commercials of Super Bowl XLVIII

Super_Bowl_XLVIII_logoWith the Seahawks blow out in SuperBowl XLVIII, one would hope that the commercials would bring some fun and entertainment to televisions biggest sports event. However, I have to admit that this years line of commercials left me highly disappointed and wanting more. Like last year, I avoided watching the Super Bowl commercial previews, except for two, so I had a spirit of anticipation going into the game, but just wasn’t wowed. However, the commercials that did get me, where the ones that celebrated America’s patriotic spirit and the people who make this nation great, much like last years line up of favorites. And I was super grateful that most of the commercials were family friendly.

So without further ado, here’s my line up of favorites:

Best Overall: Budweiser Puppy Love

Funniest: Radio Shack

Most Inspirational: Duracell

Honorable Mention: Chevy

What was your favorite?

A Contrast in Leadership

saul-or-davidOur leadership team recently read the book, A Tale of Three Kings. The book retells the biblical story of Saul, David, and Absalom! Persecuted first by a mad king and then by a vengeful son, the book tells how David resolutely trusted God when he was treated unfairly.

In considering the book and these stories, I was reminded how 1 Samuel 14:35 states that: “Saul built an altar to God; the first one he had ever built.” But fast-forward one chapter to I Samuel 15:12 and we see that, “Saul went up to Carmel to build a monument to himself.” Somewhere between those two verses, Saul stopped building altars to God and started building monuments to himself. At some point, it was no longer about God and it became about Saul.

In looking at the lives of David and Saul, it got me thinking about some of lessons we can learn from these two guys as it relates to leadership in the church. Here are some of those key learnings for leaders to remember…

  1. Don’t play the comparison game. First, you’ll always find someone doing a better job than you and you’ll get discouraged. Second, you’ll always find someone that you’re doing a better job than, and you’ll get full of pride. Either way, you’ll be dead in the water.
  2. Remember success isn’t about numbers. Saul got caught up in the numbers game. And David had better stats. Jesus was successful because he poured his life into twelve people! And like Jesus, we need to invest in the few for the sake of the multitudes. Rick Warren puts it this way, “A church should be judged not on its seating capacity, but on its sending capacity.”
  3. Celebrate your failures. As we see in Saul, insecure people are afraid of failing. Secure people laugh at themselves. They celebrate failure because it accentuates what God can do in spite of us!
  4. Don’t panic. Insecure people get nervous. They give up. Secure leaders hang in there no matter what. David waited patiently for the Lord because he was secure in his leadership and in God’s calling on his life.
  5. Don’t get defensive. How you handle criticism will make or break you. I’ve learned over the years in ministry that you need tough skin and a soft heart.
  6. Surround yourself with the right people. Who was Saul’s greatest asset? David. But if you are insecure, your greatest asset will become your greatest threat. And it will short-circuit your ability to surround yourself with a great team. And it will limit your influence.
  7. Keep building altars to God. Remember, it’s not about you! It’s easy to drift like Saul did and build monuments to ourselves. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us of this, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” He is the Potter, we are the clay! He is the Vine, we are the branches. Apart from Him, we can do nothing!

Remembering Grandma Helen

Scan 6Helen Jane Moore was born on September 18, 1914. She was the only daughter of Homer and May, and sister to her brothers, Paul and Richard. Grandma Helen as many of us affectionately called her, passed from this life on December 18, 2013 at the full age of 99! She is survived by her three beautiful daughters Clare, Sandy, and Billie, 10 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 7 great great grandchildren. When you think about it, Grandma Helen left us an incredible legacy, and today we enjoy the blessings of family, cousins and friends because of the sweet love she showed to those that she cared for most in this world.

Born and raised in Danville, IL, Helen would make the most important decision of her life as a 8 year old girl, when at a tent revival, she went forward to receive Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior! While she might not have fully understood the implications of that decision until later in her life, it would also be at a church meeting that she would meet her first husband Bill Payton, who was traveling through town as a trumpet player in the Army Band. They would fall in love, get married and began to make a home in Danville. The wife of an army man, Helen would give birth to their first daughter Clare in Danville, and daughters Sandy and Billie in Louisiana. Later this military family would move out to California, spend a year in Germany after WW2 and later return to California, finally landing at Hamilton Field before the marriage dissolved.

As a single parent, Helen was forced to enter the marketplace and would begin working at Albert’s Department Store in San Rafael, which would later become Macy’s. It would be while working retail, that she would meet the man who would later become her doting husband of 45+ years, George Sinnott. Together they would enjoy taking rides along the coast, going to Giants games and dancing. Grandma Helen would retire from the marketplace in 1985 after 30 years with Bank of America.

It would be in her retirement years that grandma would significantly grow in her relationship with Jesus, attending Bible Study Fellowship while continuing to be part of the community of First Baptist Church of Novato, where she attended for 26 years before landing at Valley Baptist Church these past 7 years. Grandma loved Jesus and reading God’s Word. An avid reader, she often exchanged historical fiction novels, with her daughter and granddaughters. And she always loved a good crossword puzzle.

Having married into the family, I always enjoyed spending time with Grandma Helen. And she always made me feel like one of her own grandchildren. She had such a sweet disposition and I loved to hear her laugh. There was also this playful side to grandma, she was a bit of a jokester and prankster, as you’ll see evidence of in some of the photos from the life in pictures. Grandma also loved her sweets. And I will never forget one time at Nancy’s when grandma was beginning to slip into her dementia that I watched her eat four pieces of pie at one of the Warfield get-togethers. She would look around and see if anyone was watching her, and quickly grab and eat another with a huge smile on her face. It was hilarious. It was like watching a kid in a candy store.

What a life Helen enjoyed. For many of us, we have no clue of the type of world Helen was born into in 1914. Born just a few months after World War I began, parents back then worried significantly when their children came down with high fevers and bad coughs. Statistically speaking she was expected to live to the age of 59, if she survived the perilous years of infancy. But Grandma Helen survived two World Wars, and other countless challenges to live to the age of 99, which even in this day is well above the average life expectancy.

Much of Grandma Helen’s world, was lived in what we could call today, “off the grid.” In her early years, she likely had no phone, no electricity, not even plumbing. But during her life, she witnessed the evolution of much of what we take for granted today…the first  movies with sound beginning in 1935, the evolution of television from black and white to color, the dawn of the internet, email and the modernization of America. And at 99, even as a former bank teller, I doubt she did a lot of online banking, nor did she have a Facebook page, but she was definitely was part of one of the greatest generations ever to live.

We loved Grandma Helen and she loved us. And I am grateful for the legacy and memories that she leaves us. However, the greatest legacy she would want to remember her by is that she was a lover of Jesus and she would want us all to know this hope and reality, because while we may grieve her passing today, we can grieve with hope knowing that the actual date of grandma’s death is probably not written down in a record book that we can easily get our hands on, you see the date on the obituary refers to the date that her body ceased to function. But the real Helen, the part of her that lives on forever, died many years ago when she heard the call of Jesus upon her life.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old things have passed away behold new things have come.

New things have indeed come to Grandma Helen! And that is our hope!

A New Tradition…Remembering

P1000083My wife Jennifer recently wrote this article and I thought it was a wonderful read worth repeating on my blog…

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.  – Psalm 92:4 (NLT)

Well, whether we’re ready or not, 2014 is here! It’s hard to believe that 2013 is over! Time goes by so quickly and the blessings of the year are often so easily forgotten. The arrival of the new year is a great time to start tracking God’s faithfulness and a fun and simple way to capture God’s blessing throughout the year is to create a memory jar. To start the fun, take a large jar (or other container) and place it somewhere your family can easily access. Whenever you have a blessing you want to remember, a prayer that is answered or an event you want to capture, simply jot it down on a small slip of paper and add it to the jar. Encourage every family member to participate and contribute. At the end of 2014, on New Years Eve perhaps, gather the family together and read those slips of paper. Not only will this be a great walk down memory lane, but it will give you the opportunity to focus on God’s faithfulness and unfailing love.

Memory Jars, and memorials in general, are not new concepts. In fact, memorials are God’s idea. Over and over again in Scripture, God instructs his people to remember His goodness, power and provisions. Start a new tradition this year and thrill in the Lord as you remember what He has done.

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever. – Joshua 4:21-24 (NLT)

In Memoriam: Billy Hardwick

1452215_10152408124337222_1751868859_nThis past Saturday, my Uncle Bill, a PBA Hall of Famer and two-time PBA Player of the Year died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

In what is described by the PBA, as one of the greatest turnarounds in professional bowling history, my uncle, Billy Hardwick went from a rookie PBA Tour season in 1962 failing to cash in a single event, to winning four titles and becoming Player of the Year the very next season. His first major title came in the 1963 PBA National, which was followed by a PBA Tournament of Champions win in 1965 and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America All-Star (now U.S. Open) title in 1969. He won a then-record seven PBA Tour titles in 1969 to earn his second Player of the Year crown. Over his professional bowling career, he had 18 PBA Tour titles, three of which were majors that earned him PBA’s Triple Crown. He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1977.

While our family didn’t often see my uncle, due to his travels and our families geographical distance, he still made his way into our living room each week as we watched him bowl on national television. Rated #12 in the Top 50 PBA Bowlers of all time, he bowled with an elite group of bowlers such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber and Nelson Burton Jr..

Yet despite the fame, my uncle’s life wasn’t an easy one. He had early onset rheumatoid arthritis that caused him to leave the PBA Tour at an early age. In addition, he lost two children, who both died as infants. However, in the last couple of years of his life, he seemed to find contentment and make peace with his past.

My Uncle Bill will be missed. Our family loved him. And he made us proud. Today my thoughts and prayers go out to my dad, my aunts and my cousins. I pray that the God of all comfort would bring us all peace, as we remember and give thanks for Billy Hardwick.

How Do You Manage Your Digital Life?

digital-worldI’ve been trying to achieve something that may be impossible…creating a way to synchronize my digital life and my real life, so that I can meaningfully accomplish things in both areas. Now I consider myself a bit of a techie. And I’ve usually been an early adopter to technology. I opened my Twitter account back in 2007. I joined Facebook in 2008. And I am usually the first in the office to update software. But lately, I’m struggling with how to manage learning curves that come technological advances like an iOS7 update, as well as managing social media and the different ways people communicate.

Perhaps I’m just getting old, but consider this. Today, I had a senior citizen from the church call me on the phone to talk, I had a millennial texting me with questions and information on my cell phone, I had instant messages on Facebook from friends and family, I was inundated with emails, I received two direct tweets from friends and I had a Skype conference call with a church leader.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, because as a former communications major, I love all the various ways and methods to communicate. But as you can see, generationally and professionally we all have different preferences of communication. Notice the inclusion of the demographics associated with the preferred styles of communication above. The professional wants everything documented, so they email. The millennial doesn’t want to answer my call, but will text instead. The senior citizen doesn’t have email and prefers to call and talk over the phone.

So, here is my question…how are you all managing all this? Seriously, with so many ways to communicate, what have you found to be the best way to navigate all these various platforms…voice mail, email, texts, letters, etc.

Along with that, I am desperately trying to move away from paper and integrate meeting notes, task lists and streamline things to be more productive. However, I am finding the apps I’m using don’t necessarily sync well between my computer, my tablet and my phone. I’ve tried Evernote and Wunderlist, but so far not wowed by either. So I would be interested to hear what you’re using and what’s working for you.

Long ago we were promised that technology would make our lives simpler. And in many ways it has. But it has also made our lives a whole lot more complicated. However, as hard as we try to hide from technology…it is there, staring us in the face. So what’s working for you? I’m curious. Give me your thoughts!

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