Psalm 101 for 2017

Note to the reader:  If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I am not posting an image here every day here anymore.  I have decided to move daily image posts to my Relentless Growth Facebook page.  You can find that page, like, and follow here.  This page will be reserved for writing moving forward.  Hope to see you in the Facebook world!

wp-1483279541415.jpgOne of the routines I have right now is reading in Psalms every morning before my feet hit the floor.  I don’t do it to be spiritual or to impress anyone.  I do it because I need it!  Since disciplining myself in this way, I find I have a little more grace to extend and a more positive outlook on the hard days as I have a bit of God’s Word rattling around in my mostly empty skull.

Last week I hit on Psalm 101, and after a couple days of looking at it, reading it, and thinking about it, I began to wonder what David’s thoughts were when he wrote it.  I know he was led by the Spirit to write it, but I wonder what the prompt for it was.

Since we were closing in on the end of 2016 and the thoughts of the New Year, goals, plans and dreams were running through my mind, I began to wonder if this was a “New Year’s Resolution” list for David. Is it possible that this was his list of things that he wanted to work on for the upcoming year?

I mentioned in my last post that I would be sharing more about this chapter and how I wanted to use it for myself in 2017.  Stop and think about it.  This is not a bad list!

  1. I will sing of your love and justice, lord.  I will praise you with songs. – I want to praise God more this year. I want to tell people about His love for me and how He has made changes in this life of mine that He has paid for.
  2. I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. – I want to live a life that doesn’t make people wonder if I am a fake Christian, just putting on a show.  I want people to just believe that God is real to me and that I am the same person in the workplace that I am at home or with my friends. I want to be careful to avoid the things that cause doubts.
  3. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. – I want to protect my eyes from things that are evil. I want to be sure that I am engaging in honest actions with people and avoid anything that will pull me into evil thoughts or actions.
  4. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. – I want to keep my thought life clean and focused on things that give God glory rather than things that give my flesh power.
  5. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. – I want to not only avoid negative talking about others, but also I want to be a voice that speaks up against that behavior.  I want to both be humble and promote humility in others.
  6. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me.  – I want to surround myself with people I can trust for encouragement, correction, love, and joy.  I want to help people live and work with a strong moral code.
  7. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. – I want to bring truth to light in my surroundings. I want to use grace and mercy to uncover the deceptions that are around me and  bring a restoration to the circumstances and people involved.
  8. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the lord from their grip. – I want to be on the lookout for evil every day.  Evil is not usually a person, but evil actions need to be addressed for what they are and they need to be stopped.  In all things, I want God to be glorified where His people work and live.

seo-checklistI don’t know if this was David’s list for a New Year, but I do see where I can take this list and use it as an outline for how I would like to act this year.  If I can even make a little progress on it in my life, that will be a good thing!  There is nothing wrong with a single step as long as it is in the right direction!

2017 is a fresh start.  I have made my plans for this year, and in total, they are pretty big plans!  I will need to be Relentless this year in order to accomplish them.  I will need to keep a strong Focus on the goals.  I will need to be Resilient as obstacles pop up and try to pull me off track.

What do you think?  Would love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment and share!

Happy New Year!

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Race Is Not the Problem. It Is a Symptom.

3.-Root-causeYesterday I heard the information unfold about the shooting of police officers in Dallas.  11 injured and 5 dead at the hands of one man who felt he needed to set something right.  This act was the result of two very publicized deaths of two black men in the past week.  I have watched a lot of video and read a lot of articles, and I am emotionally battered and bruised as a result of all of it.

There are a lot of hurting hearts out there today.  I speak not only of the families of those officers, but also of the families of the men who were killed by police.  No matter which side of the law those killed were on, their families are hurting today, grieving the loss of loved ones.  In that, all are equal.  I pray for God’s peace for them.  I also pray for an end of this.

Our country is sick right now yet we continue to look for a solution to the illness my treating the symptoms of the illness.  We add laws and programs. We spout rhetoric and demands.  We speak of rights and injustice. We point fingers and call for action.  What has it done?  Have we seen improvement?  No.  We might see momentary calm, but then the sickness returns stronger than ever and seemingly immune to things that once held it at bay.

I would like to say that I am angry, but I am at that point that we come to after anger and outrage.  I am almost in a state of complete despair regarding the future of our country and its ability to maintain any type of unity.  We are divided, and as long as we stay that way, things will continue to decline until the point that there is nothing left that is good, sacred, or safe.

So, what brought this on?  How did we get here?  Is this because of economic inequality, social class, race, educational opportunities, or bigotry?  Which of these or a hundred other things have brought us here?  Honestly I don’t think it is any of them.  They are just symptoms of the bigger problem.  The sickness is evil and it has been around a long time.  We like to think that we always recognize it, but it has been growing under different guises, hiding behind symptoms, building its strength and weakening our nation.

America is still a great place to be, and I am proud to be an American.  We have freedom like no other nation in the world.  It was sought out for that freedom by the Pilgrims, and then it was fought for by the early colonists. It has been defended through wars, both here on our land to deliver freedom to those in slavery, and abroad to give a part of our freedom to other countries that were in dire need.  Freedom is a good thing.  It is important to us and is should be defended, but in it I feel that evil has been allowed to flourish.

I think that in our pursuit of happiness and protection of so many of our rights, we have given birth to the most dangerous symptom of evil in our country – moral relativism.  The belief that what is right and wrong is based on my view of the world in any given moment.  When this type of mentality gets played out, it leads to one person’s “rights” being more important than another person’s “rights”.  Then, if those two “rights” are inherently opposed to each other we get conflict.  Over time, that conflict grows and becomes something out of control.  Here we are.

How has this happened?  I think C.S. Lewis summed it up quite well in the post below:

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Saw this quote yesterday paired with an image of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  While that is a whole different discussion, I think it applies very well to a discussion on how evil has been able to thrive under the guise of freedom and the development of moral relativism.  Satan likes to see us in a state of reaction because reaction is generally done without thought.  It takes us places we might not have gone if we had spent some time contemplating the issue and searching for what we truly need – truth.

We can list all kinds of things we see around us that live in the extremes and we can react to them with a total opposite action.  There are always going to be extremes.  There is crime, but that does not mean we should have police brutality.  There has been police brutality, but that does not mean we should have open season on police.  There has been racism, but that does not mean reverse racism is an answer.  There has been gender inequality, but that does not mean we should erase gender.  Answering an extreme with an extreme does nothing more than tear down the moral fabric of our country.

I know it is easy for me to sit here and type these words as if I can solve the problems all over our country.  I am not that naive.  I also know that there will be people who may be upset by my words, thinking I am minimizing the effects of heinous acts in both directions.  I apologize if I make you feel that way.  My intent is not to belittle anyone in this.  I merely want to point out that it is time that we take a stand and stop talking about the symptoms as if they are all that matter.  We need to take the fight to the disease!

What if everyone in the country stopped their arguing for a day about who was right and who was wrong?  What if we just stopped and asked the question, “What is right and what is wrong?”  Remove the person from the equation because people will have differing views.  We must have a proper understanding of what is good and what is evil before we can agree on how to move forward.  If we aren’t all playing by the same rules then we will never play well together.

God’s Word used to be seen as a yardstick to hold right and wrong up against.  For me, it still is.  The Word of God is not only true, it is True.  The standard.  The thing that all should be measured against.  It is a measure of how we should treat our families, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, our employees, and how we should conduct ourselves in society.  If we could go back to holding up Truth as the standard instead of a person’s beliefs then we would finally be able to start rebuilding the damaged relationships in this country.

I am not saying we need to throw out our laws.  we need them because we will always have evil. We will always have those who will try to lift their agendas above all others.  We can’t let that stand in the way of putting things right again though.  We must stand and do the right thing.

I know I am a white guy from northern Michigan who grew up in a little town that has literally had almost no ethnic diversity for most of my life.  I also know that as I have grown up we have had crime.  We have had murders. We have had theft.  We have had violent behavior, and it has happened on both sides of the law.  I can also say that it has been committed almost solely by white people.  Does that mean that white people are the problem?  No.  Not any more than crime in a predominately black, hispanic, asian or any other ethnic area is indicative of crime being attributed solely to their color or nationality.  The problem is that we are all PEOPLE. We are people and we sin by doing evil things.  Evil is the problem, not skin tone.

My heart breaks for the fear and anxiety in the world today.  I have not said much about it, and I am not going to pick a side because the lines are so boldly drawn and far apart that there is simply too much room for ambiguity and falsehood to wreak all kinds of havoc on both sides of the issues.  I cannot choose one over the other because I think that sometimes both sides in any issue are wrong.  Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. and if we can find it, we will be free to live our lives as God so desperately wants us to live.

Jesus Christ is that Truth.  He came so we could have that life we all want. An abundant and rich life.  A life that our founding fathers really had in mind when they penned the words “pursuit of happiness”.  I am not saying this is a Christian nation, but I am saying that it was founded on biblical principles because they saw and understood the Truth in God’s Word.  They saw that following those rules would give us our best shot at the happiness and freedoms we were designed for by God to have through a relationship with Him.  They wanted us to have freedom through those principles because in the principles of God’s Word, true freedom is found.

I have been challenged in my devotional reading yesterday that it is important to realize when enough is enough and it is time to stand up and say what needs to be said.  If I am going toe Relentless in my life, then that is what I need to do.  I want to be a man of God, obedient to Him and reaching out to those around me with Truth.  Not my truth. God’s Truth. So, today I am calling out those who read this to do the same.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says:

“Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

So, how about it?  Do I stand alone, or will you stand with me to pull back the cover that shrouds evil?  Are you willing to look past the symptoms that are tearing us apart and Relentlessly seek the root cause of the decay we are experiencing around us?

Let’s stand up.  Speak Truth into the circumstances around us. Pray for our country. Pray for our families.  Pray for a return to Truth.

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No Excuses

there-are-no-excuses-4We have all been hearing the news of the Stanford rape victim and the lenient sentence passed down to the rapist.  Yesterday I read the young woman’s letter she had written to her attacker and I was hit with a few different thoughts and emotions.  I know I have not been here lately, and this is a pretty hard thing to come back from a hiatus with, but here we go…

  1.  I am impressed with this woman’s ability to so clearly articulate how she feels after this heinous act.  The way she described her emotional and mental state actually took me into her mind where I could feel the trauma she is experiencing.  I can never know what someone who has endured this has felt, but thanks to that letter, I have a much better idea of how deeply the wounds go into the mind and soul.
  2. I am full of respect for this woman for owning her part in this.  Careful.  No stone throwing… I did not say she should be blamed.  There is no excuse for what happened to her, but she admitted that allowing herself to get that drunk put her in a position for a bad thing to happen.  She could have made a better choice that evening, and she admitted that.  That takes character.
  3. I am cheering for the two young men who acted heroically by stepping in and stopping the act.  Truly Good Samaritans in their actions and bravery.  They must have a couple of very proud sets of parents today.  They saw evil and stepped in to do something about it.  Good job, men.  Good job.
  4. I am thankful that at the very minimum, and it was minimum, the attacker was convicted of the crime.  To the 12 jurors, I appreciate their ability to wade through all of the excuses and attempts to cast doubt and still come back with a decision that puts a mark on this man for what he has done that will stand for the rest of his life.  His victim has been marked, so should he.
  5. Beyond that, I have a range of thoughts and emotions I would rather not focus on in regards to the rapist, the passive father who made excuses for his son and tried to downplay his actions, the lawyer that worked so hard to humiliate a young woman who had already endured so much, and a judge who did not sentence a rapist with an appropriate punishment.  I am going to take the position that God will judge their actions.  I cannot change the past, and outrage simply for the purpose of being angry will accomplish nothing.

What we need to focus on is finding ways to make sure acts like this do not take place again.  Parents!  If you are going to count on school officials, government officials, and the ability of campus security to keep your children safe, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!  I am sorry, but this is not a problem that will be cured with programs and more parking lot lights.  This is a matter of the hearts of the kids that we are raising and the character we instill in them.  As a country, parents need to step up and insist on building character and integrity into their children.

We will never see a world without predators.  It is a broken world we live in and the effects of sin are far reaching, but we can fight against them.  The education we give to our kids in how to think past the moment in their choices is so important.  What are the consequences of this decision? Who could potentially be harmed if I do this?  What are the long term ramifications of this choice?  We focus so hard to get them to look both ways before walking across the street, but are we teaching them to pause and look both ways when given options on who to hang out with, what to drink, and what to eat?  Are we teaching them to weigh the possibilities of walking through a dark place alone rather than hanging out with a group of friends?

Again, we will never be able to stop all evil, but we can build into our kids wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and character that can guide them when we are not there.  Take the time, be Relentless in it!

To my daughter – You are beautiful, sweet and pure, and I want you to stay that way.  I want you to think about the places you go and the things that you do fro other viewpoints than your own.  I have tried to tell you as much as possible about how the mind of men works and where they are weak and potentially twisted.  I have tried to show you how to identify behaviors that you should avoid as well as indicators of character that you can trust.  I pray that you will make the right choices when given the opportunity, and I pray for your protection when the evil of the world crosses your path through no fault of your own.

To my son – You are a young man now.  You have been taught and have been showing you understand how to properly show women honor and respect.  You have been taught that while women are strong, and intelligent and capable of doing things on their own, God has charged men to be tender warriors for them.  Our job is not to hold them back and keep them captive “for their own good”, but it is our job to be men and stand up for what is right and protect their honor as those two young men did.  Women are not tools or toys, they are treasures and should be considered that way by all men.  You will have opportunities to choose, and I pray that you will make the right choice to show the same respect for them as Christ did in the Bible.  You will see men who will objectify them or hurt them and I pray that you will suit up and gear up for battle against that evil as one of God’s warriors.

Men, the battle is won in the preparation, and our home is the place it needs to start.  Show your wives how much you care for your children and their character.  Prepare your children, be involved.  Identify their battles. Teach them to recognize their enemies. Educate them on the weaknesses of evil. Coach them in how to fight evil. Cheer for them as they fight. Recognize their victories. Nurse their wounds. Encourage them for battle.

This world is not getting better.  We must be Relentless in developing children who can stand in it.

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