Choosing Things of Greater Value


 

I’m very reflective this time of year…

As we head into a New Year, I considering if my life is achieving the things of greatest value…

One way I’m doing that is asking myself some self-evaluation questions…

For example…

Am I more concerned about:

  • My clothes or my character?
  • What others think of me or what God thinks of me?
  • My success or my influence?
  • Having fun or making a difference?
  • Making a quick and easy return or a creating a long term investment?
  • Gaining instant pleasure or producing eternal rewards?
  • My personal safety or my obedience to God’s will?
  • Being loved or loving well?
  • My happiness or enhancing the happiness of others?
  • The worries I can manufacture or having a faith in One I can’t control?
  • My popularity with the rich and famous or a relationship with my Creator?
  • My bank account or making a Kingdom impact with what God has given me?

Sometimes it is not a matter of good or bad, but of good or best…

In 2011…let’s be concerned about things of greater value…

What else could you add to my list of questions?

Merry Christmas from the Edmondson’s


 

 

Merry Christmas!

What an incredible year this has been!  I’m thankful for the friends and opportunities God has brought our way this year.  Our house has seen challenges and trials, as any year brings, but this year has been exceptional.

The circle of life continued again this year! Near the end of 2009, Cheryl’s father passed away with cancer.  In early 2010, my father passed away, also with cancer.  We walked through cancer with dozens of friends this year and we saw too many families whose lives were disrupted with the grief of death.  At the same time, we celebrated the birth of many dozens of babies and weddings in our church and among friends and family.

Our immediate family has seen many changes this year.  Jeremy graduated from college and started working full-time for the ministry Soles4Souls, where he is social media manager.  He’s doing an incredible work in his first career job.  Nate continued his studies at Moody Bible College, completed a summer internship at Grace, and had multiple preaching opportunities.  Cheryl started working full-time again at Fort Campbell Credit Union as Accounting Manager.

Cheryl and I traveled to separate mission fields this year.  I went to Africa and Cheryl went to Guatemala.  Together we continue our love for traveling by going multiple places.  We are true empty-nesters now and glad we enjoy each other’s company so much.

Grace Community Church has continued to exceed all the expectations we could have set for the church.  We celebrated 5 years together this September and our growth is still averaging over 30%.  God keeps bringing hurting people our way and we keep experiencing genuine life change.

We are closing out the year by selling our house and buying a condominium downtown in our city, with an incredible view of the Riverwalk and downtown.  We’ll soon be walking to Austin Peay State University ballgames, restaurants, plays and the museum.

This coming year has some excitement in store for us.  Jeremy will marry his high school sweetheart in May.  We love Mary and welcome her as our daughter.  We already consider her one of ours, so this will only make it official.  Nate will be spending the summer in Europe, studying abroad. We will miss him, but happy for the opportunity he has.  We have some fun travel plans. I’ll be going to Costa Rica in January with Mary.  Cheryl and I are headed to an island off the coast of South Carolina in February and we are making plans for San Francisco this summer.

Christmas and year-end always reminds me how blessed I am.  Please allow me to thank you, my blog readers, Twitter and Facebook friends, and family members at Grace Community Church.  I love each of you being part of my life.

God is stirring my heart for some expanded opportunities in the New Year.  I am looking forward to more good times together in 2011!

Merry Christmas!

(If you are a regular reader…or a new reader…I’d love for you to comment just to let me know you are out there…)

Is It Panic or Preparation?

Yesterday we made a decision to delay our youngest son’s flight home from Chicago until today, because of the threat of bad weather in Nashville. It was a hard call, because he had finished exams, he was ready to be home for Christmas, we miss him dearly, and I’ve already purchased bacon….

Here in Nashville the general talk was that we were on the verge of the next big ice storm. Schools closed early, grocery stores were packed, and games and activities were canceled or postponed. We’ve experienced ice storms in the past where everything was shut down, electricity goes out and motorists are stranded. Our area of the country has had it’s share of disasters in the past few years with floods, tornadoes and ice storms. I called Southwest twice. His flight, the last of the day, was already showing a delay of two hours. The two customer service agents I talked with (who were great BTW) both said the flight was subject to be cancelled and he would be bumped to the next day. They were offering free weather changes until the next day and their advice was to pick a flight after noon today. There were only three seats left on the afternoon flight.

With this information, for fear of losing a flight altogether, I pulled the trigger and decided to delay his trip home until today. As it turned out, the weather predicted never came, his normal flight arrived on schedule, and had I left things as they were he would have slept in his own bed last night.

I felt awful…but…

There is such a fine line between panic and preparation.

On one hand…

  • We want to live by faith and trust God…
  • We realize life is unpredictable…
  • We naturally fear what is unknown…
  • We can have a tendency to overreact…
  • We don’t want to live in panic mode…

On the other hand…

  • We want to be wise and protect the ones we love…
  • We want to learn from experience…
  • We sometimes have limited information…
  • We don’t always have a clear word from God…
  • We want to be prepared….

Yesterday is an easy example, but there are other more complicated issues in our life, where we have to make decisions with limited information, where the answer is uncertain, where fear comes into play, and we can choose to panic or be prepared. In could be in our personal lives, in business, or in the church. It’s almost seems at times like it’s the battle between fear and faith.  Do you ever face that dilemma?

Help me out here. Which did I do yesterday…panic…or prepare? Where is the balance between panic and preparation? How do you distinguish between the two?

Growing Service in Your Kids at Christmas


Tim Elmore is an incredible leader. He has one of the best understandings of how to reach the next generation of anyone one I know.  I recently had dinner with Tim and can attest to this man’s incredible heart for people.  I’m blessed to have Tim share his thoughts with us here today as a guest post.

In our recent work with students, Growing Leaders has drawn some interesting conclusions. We have seen a shift take place among the young people in Generation Y. (The kids born in the 80s are different than the kids born since then.) The research is in a new book called: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

One of the shifts we’ve uncovered is that kids have moved from “activists” (who want to change the world) to “slack-tivists.” They still want to change the world — but sort of. They often don’t really want to work hard or make sacrifices. They’d rather sign a petition on a website, get a wristband and then return to a video game or YouTube. They’re more self-absorbed than their earlier counterparts. So, how do we grow a heart for service in our kids today?

Try this.

In preparation for Christmas, prepare a list of Saturday chores to give to your kids. The list can include items that need to be done prior to the holidays — setting up decorations, cleaning rooms, preparing desserts, whatever. Obviously, include items that are age-appropriate.

Without telling them, hide an envelope with money in it, tickets to a ballgame or the movies, and put it where they’ll find it if they do their chores very thoroughly. For instance, if you ask them to clean the sofa, you may hide ten dollars under the cushions. They’ll see it only if they have worked hard and carefully. In other words, the reward comes when they have served well. Winners are the ones who work with excellence. Hopefully everyone will win.

Afterward, talk about how Jesus came at Christmas two thousand years ago. He said, “to serve, not to be served” (Matthew 20:28). Have a conversation about how Christmas really is about serving — God serving us and people serving each other.

“With good will serve each other, as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord…” (Ephesians 6:7-8)

Join us tomorrow at Greg Surratt’s blog as we discuss ways to develop perspective in your kids (and maybe yourself!) during the holidays.

Tim Elmore

——–

You can follow Tim Elmore’s personal blog at http://blog.growingleaders.com, and learn more about developing the next generation in his latest book: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

The Downward Spiral of a Man’s Heart

I’m sick of Satan’s dirty little tricks. Criticize me all you want for the legalistic sound of this post but I’m not taking a chance in this area of my life and I want to use this post to encourage men to do likewise.  If I’ve learned anything about being a man it’s that I am weak in this area. I’m tired of sitting with couples whose marriage is rocked because of an affair.  Lately this has included those in ministry and it’s impacting their ability to do Kingdom work.  If a man says he can handle this area of temptation without proper discipline in his life he’s most likely lying or impotent.

In nearly every situation I encounter (all but one or two that I can remember), the affair didn’t start in an instant; it started over a series of time and moments of indiscretion by the man (or woman).  I can’t intelligently speak to this issue from a woman’s perspective, but here is the progression of the sin of adultery in a man’s life:

Glance

Look

Gaze

Thought

Lust

Pornography

Flirting

Affair

Rarely does an affair start at the glance stage. It’s true a man may not go through each of the stages. Some skip the pornography stage, for example, although well over half the time this is the case. The key here is that it is a progression. It seems to me, therefore, that where we need to get a handle on the problem is early in the progression.   Satan is the master at entering adequate temptation into this progression.  He seems to know the right images and situations to tempt the man.

Every time I post about this issue females accuse me of being a pervert.  Just read some of the comments in THIS POST.  Guys, help me out here.  Be honest with who you are and the temptations you face on a daily basis.  You know you have a problem if not controlled.  Even the Old Testament character Job realized he needed some discipline in his life in this area.  (Job 31:1)  No temptation has seized you except what’s common to man. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Men (and women), we must get a handle on what we look at and what we do with our thought life.  I’m not saying every time a man has a lustful thought it is going to end up in an affair, but the progression is the scary part. Some of you reading this are already past the danger point in your progression.  My advice is to get help now. Your family, ministry and reputation are too important not to protect it.

For more on this thought process, read my post Addressing a Porn Generation and 7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry from an Affair.

Now, for those brave enough, be honest with meDo you struggle in these areas?  What are you doing to protect yourself?

Don’t Be the Spoiler of Joy in Your Home

Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family. 1 Chronicles 16:43 NIV

What difference do you make in your home? David returned home to “bless his family”. Do you bless yours?

I am sure your family loves you. You are the mother, the father, the brother, or the sister. Of course, they love you, but are you lovable? Do they actually like you? Are you a positive influence on the health of your home? Do you add to its success, or take away from it?  If they had a choice would they hang out with you today?

Think about it for a moment. When you enter your home, what happens? Do people get excited? Are they glad you are there? Can they expect to see a smile, hear a kind word, or know they can approach you in peace? Are you a blessing to your home?

More important perhaps: Would the people in your home agree with your answers to the previous questions?

When my boys were little, sometimes I found myself as the spoiler of joy. I would come home, they would be excited about something in their life, and I would crush their spirit with my attitude.  Thankfully not many of those days (I think they would agree), but enough that I remember them.

There were days that my role was a disciplinarian…when I had to make hard decisions, but other times I was that person because I had a bad day at work or I was in a bad mood. There were many times, when I took the stress of life out on my family.  In those times, I had to remind myself that my home needed me just to be a dad who blesses them. As it turns out, the days with my boys at home were quickly gone. I am thankful for the times I chose to add joy to the home.

David went home to his family…and he blessed them! All of us play a role in creating the mood of our home.  We can choose to be a positive or a negative influencer of that atmosphere. All of us have bad days, but the way we respond to our family is most important.  Considering the current mood you are adding to your home, could that verse have been written about you?

Have you ever been the spoiler of joy in your home?

A Week Of Thanksgiving: The Top People on My List

I’ve been writing about people I’m thankful for this week, encouraging you to do the same. Obviously our greatest thanksgiving should be for our personal relationship with the Living God, but I’m thankful He allows us to have people in our life to love and help shape us. We’ve shared about people who have helped us professionally, been consistent friends, and helped us grow spiritually. You can still do that in the previous posts HERE, HERE AND HERE.

Today, I want to share the group most of us would put at the top of our thankful list….our immediate families. The people in my life I’m most thankful for are my wife and two boys. I’ve previously shared most of these points about them, but they are still true today.

Cheryl:
• Models patience for me.
• Cheryl wants nothing in life but to see her family happy. That keeps me grounded in life.
• I want nothing more than to make see her happy, so she gives me a consistent goal in life.
• Cheryl makes me to be a kinder, gentler person.
• You can read a separate post I wrote about her HERE.

Jeremy:
• Jeremy models forgiveness for me. He is the most forgiving person I know.
• He encourages me to slow down and enjoy the moments of life.
• Jeremy shapes an “it’s okay” attitude in my heart.
• Jeremy is a relationship builder and opens me up to deeper conversations.
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

Nate: (My 19 years old)
• Nate has always modeled reality for me. He sees things more in black and white.
• He holds me accountable. He can be my biggest critic, but he’s usually right!
• Nate stretches my innovation. He’s a creative thinker and always challenges status quo.
• He keeps me light-hearted. There is no one who makes me laugh more than Nate!
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

This year, as I prepare to have a daughter, I’m also extremely thankful for Jeremy’s fiancé Mary. Mary has been in our life for quite a few years now and we have always loved her as a daughter. We are happy our son was smart enough to make it official! Mary is so much like my wife Cheryl, so I know our family, and my son, is being blessed. She has beauty, grace, and compassion to offer everyone she meets. I wrote about her more HERE.

Who are you most thankful for this year? Describe your immediate family to me.

The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round

I saw this plaque in a store window in Michigan recently. I snapped a quick picture. I didn’t need the plaque, but I love the statement.

I dont’ know where the saying originated, but the most memorable time I heard it was when Jack Nicholson said it in the movie “Bucket List”. It’s a powerful and true statement about life.

It has a similar thought process to one of my favorite verses from Scripture. Ecclesiastes 11:3: “If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.

It reminds me that life happens. Seasons change. Troubles come and they go. You cannot navigate around them. The wheels on the bus go round and round. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. Occasionally over rough terrain. At times suffering from a flat tire or two…

I’m also reminded that during the toughest times of life, when we can’t seem to catch our breath and the wheels are turning so swiftly, that:

  • We learn more.
  • Our faith grows
  • Our witness potential expands
  • Our God can be glorified

How are your wheels turning today? Which season are you in right now?

Week of Thanksgiving: One Consistent Friend

Do you have a consistent friend…one who has stuck with you over the years…through good times and bad times of life?

Are you thankful for them?

This week I’m focussing some posts on sharing thoughts of Thanksgiving. You can read yesterday’s post HERE.

I’ll start the discussion by sharing one of mine.

Chuck was my radio partner for 17 years. I recently had to give up the show we did together due to my work schedule, but I know our friendship goes beyond a couple of microphones. I have always considered Chuck like a brother. I would trust him with my life. I remember the time he had some heart complications and was taken to the hospital. As I started to rush out the door to go see him, my wife reminded me that only immediate family was allowed in his room. Without thinking I said, “Well I’ll just tell them I’m his brother.” Cheryl told me they might suspect something. Chuck is black and I am white. If I needed something today I would simply have to call and Chuck would be there. I love that guy.

Now your turn.

Who is that one person, besides your immediate family, who has always been a consistent friend?

Friday Discussion: Do Opposites Attract?

This Friday discussion originates from a discussion we had in my community group meeting this week. Our topic was marriage and in almost every couple, the husband and wife were extremely different in how they approach situations. It wasn’t a strictly male/female discussion. The males and females were split on some of these issues. It was just that two people wired completely different had married one another. I do know from a counseling standpoint that these difference also cause conflict, but is it who we are attracted to…those that will naturally conflict with our personalities?

So today, share your opinion: Do opposites attract? Do they work to make the relationship stronger?

I’ve always heard that is true, although I don’t know if any research has been done to prove it or not. I see it a lot of it, but is it always true?

Are we attracted to people with different personalities from ours?  Do we want to marry someone who is going to naturally conflict with us?  I’m asking more than the male/female question…that one is natural.  I’m asking are you differently wired….one organized, the other not…one a planner, the other not…one high stressed, the other laid back…that kind of difference.  Perhaps one way to address this is to answer the question: Are you opposite from your spouse or loved one? What are things that drive you nuts about your partner, but may be the things that actually attracted you to him or her?

What do you think?

Share your thoughts with me and dialogue on this Friday discussion. I love reading your opinions.