Monday, June 26, 2017

Solutions for America's Good

With the 4th of July coming up next week, yes, I am thankful to live in America, thankful for our freedoms and opportunities, and thankful for all who have served and sacrificed for the good of the cause. I am especially grateful to our great and glorious God who has shed His grace upon this land in extraordinary ways.

Yet I am convinced that things could be much better in this country. So rather than complain about what’s wrong, let me offer three quick solutions that will change us for the good and steer our nation onto the right course. 

1. We need a holy reverence for God. Seriously, a renewed respect for and admiration of Almighty God would resolve most of the problems we have in this country. As we thumb our national nose at the notion that there is an omnipotent, omniscient Creator, we might well expect that He would be justified in giving us up to our own impurities, dishonorable passions, and debased minds to do what ought not to be done. And we will surely suffer the consequences thereof. 

We still sing “God Bless America,” and we still hear politicians tag their speeches with a nod to God for His blessing, but words ring hollow when we turn around and deny Him with our immoral actions, rebellious attitudes, irreverent talk, and godless political decisions. Let us acknowledge God as the almighty Maker of heaven and earth, and humble ourselves under His mighty hand. 

2. We need to recognize that society benefits from biblical values. I know that doesn’t sit well with progressive culture, but it’s true. The principles we see in God’s Word give any society the structure in which to thrive. Looking no further than the 10 Commandments, it is evident that a community living by these laws benefits tremendously by their keeping. 

Even non-Christians ought to be able to clearly conclude that a nation where children honor their parents, where there is no murder, no adultery, no theft, no lying, and no coveting of your neighbor’s stuff would make for a great place to live. 

American Statesman Daniel Webster nailed it: “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” 

3. We need to reaffirm the home as the foundational component for building healthy community. Studies consistently and overwhelmingly show that children’s well-being is tied significantly to being raised in a loving home with their mother and father. Yet it seems that most social solutions being proposed today are at best like trying to cure skin cancer with a band-aid. 

Fathers, let me especially encourage you to be actively engaged in your children’s lives. The results of our collective failure in this regard are staggering. One Princeton study found that boys raised apart from their fathers were two to three times more likely to end up in jail before age 30. Another study found that girls whose fathers disappeared before they turned 6 were about five times more likely to end up as pregnant teenagers than were girls who were raised with their fathers in the homes. 

The evidence is clear. God’s design for the family, as it turns out unsurprisingly, is best for families, communities and nations. We would do well to make it a national priority to strengthen marriages, homes and families. 

Let’s celebrate this July 4th by turning our hearts in reverence to God, to the truths of His Word, and to our raising our families in the ways of the Lord. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leading Well - Lessons from Coach Wooden

Man, I’ve been slack in writing! Got a hundred excuses, if you care to hear them, but mainly just haven’t prioritized it. So for both of my faithful readers who have been missing this column recently, thanks for coming back!

I love reading about and watching great coaches. I’m thinking of some of the most well-known and successful coaches like Bear Bryant, Vince Lombardi, Coach K, Tom Landry, Tony Dungy, Bobby Bowden, and a host of others. And one John Wooden. 

These guys are masters in their field. 

For me, a great coach not only knows the X’s and O’s well, but also lives his or her life with integrity, passion, and wisdom. He pours his heart into the development of his players, both on and off the field. He sets the bar high, challenging them to achieve more than they think they can, and provides all the resources, training, correction, help, and encouragement they need to succeed. 

Coach Wooden was the best of the best. The “Wizard of Westwood” led the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to an unprecedented 88 consecutives wins and 10 NCAA championships, including seven in a row. But his tremendous influence upon the lives of those he led far surpasses his achievements on the hardwood. 

One of Wooden’s star players, Bill Walton, said this in 2007 interview: “When I left UCLA in 1974 and became the highest-paid player in the history of team sports at that time, the quality of my life went down. That’s how special it was to have played for John Wooden and UCLA.” 

Wooden invested in the lives of his players and knew that life was more than basketball. More than caring about their potential as basketball players, he truly loved them as people. He sought to instill within them values such as humility, gratitude, hard-work, teamwork, responsibility, honesty, consideration of others, serving others, and the importance of family and love. 

He often taught: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what people think you are.” How true, and how relevant! 

We need leaders like this in our world today. Fathers, we need to lead our families like this. Teachers, coaches, business leaders, government authorities, bosses, fellow pastors, big brothers and sisters, and all who have influence in another’s life – let’s lead those whom God has entrusted to our care with integrity, passion, and wisdom. Let’s be the best we that we can so that we can help others become the best that they can be – and that life is always and only found in Christ Jesus. 

Coach Wooden was also a strong Christian man who read his Bible daily and once wrote: “I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.” 

And I say “Amen” to that! Friend, let me urge you put your trust in Jesus who alone can save from sin and death, who alone can grant abundant and eternal life to all who believe, and who alone can lead you to live in a way far beyond your own expectations, for your good and for His greater and glory. Now that’s some great coaching!