Are you good in a crisis?

Johnny Jackson ChurchillLife is full of crises. Most of them you probably are reacting to and are not the cause of; someone hits your car, a baby in the family gets really sick, a bomb blows up at the finish line of a marathon.  Most of those things you cannot prevent. You just have to deal with them.

How do you handle it when you’re confronted with a crisis? Now, you can freak out, scream, and run when you are faced with an emergency or you can react in a way that helps those around you through the situation too.  We certainly saw both reactions at the Boston Marathon bombing.

My dad was exceptionally good in a crisis. He didn’t lose his cool. He thought clearly and gave good direction or advice. He didn’t let the emotion of the moment get him. He focused on the task at hand…getting through the crisis as best as possible. He was a U.S. Army officer and had successfully dealt with crises.

The best way to do that is to process the steps you should take during a crisis when you are not in one. Emergency personnel have a checklist memorized as what to do first, second and third when confronted with an emergency. You can do the same thing too.

Take time alone to think it out. When you have some type of physical crisis, like a car accident, what are the first 10 things you should do? Make a list before it happens, so that when it does you’re ready. If you have an emotional crisis, like a close family member, you love very much, is going through some very difficult situation. What is the 5 things you want to do so you’ll be able to think clearly and support them.  What do you do in a spiritual crisis, like something has happened that you doubt God or your faith? Make a list.  What do you do? …Pray, seek God’s word to you in His Word, seek out trusted counselors etc.

I think Jesus was good in a crisis. During the torture before the cross and on the cross he was thinking about other people. He told John to physically care of Mary Jesus’ mother. He stopped to minister to emotional women who were crying because of the brutality. He cared spiritually for his torturers, which was evident when He asked God, the Father, to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. Now obviously the cross was physically, emotionally and spiritually brutal, but Jesus had prepared as best as he could. I think the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was part of that preparation. So, during the crisis he was able to stay composed and focus on others.

How do you take time to prepare for life’s crises? Please leave a comment and let us know.

Are You Smarter Than A Four-Year-Old?


I was reading the book, If You Have a Hat; a Silly Rhyming Picture Book, by Gerald Hawksley, to my four-year-old granddaughter, Logan.  It’s a book very similar to the Dr. Suess Cat in the Hat books that I read years ago. She listened attentively as I read the book.  As I read, I asked her, “Do you see how the words rhyme?”  She didn’t get it at first.  But, then I showed her how mouse rhymed with house and how race rhymed with face and she got it. Now, her brother, Brody, is only two and he just didn’t want to sit and listen. He certainly wasn’t at the point in his life where he’d understand what a rhyme was.

As I had time to reflect on reading the book to her, I realized it must be the same way with us as we read God’s Word and our Heavenly Father teaches us. If you’ve read God’s Word regularly, you know that sometimes you read the same verse on one occasion that you’ve read many times and all of a sudden something jumps out at you; a word or an idea, that you never got when reading that verse before. That’s God teaching you “how the words rhyme.” Rather, He’s showing you something that you didn’t get before in that verse; a new truth or insight that you didn’t understand before. Now, you’re at a point in your life when you can get it. Before, if He showed it to you, you just didn’t get it.

To me, that adds a whole new insight into Jesus’s words, Luke 18:17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” When you approach reading God’s Word you must realize that the creator of the universe, the all-knowing God is trying to teach you. In many ways it like a grandfather, with many more years of education and experience trying to teach a four-year-old. We’ve got to really pay attention to what He’s trying to say. He’s showing us how the “words rhyme,” so we can understand what He’s trying to say to us at the place and time we are right now in our lives.

When you approach God Word, the Bible, try listening like a four-year-old. Allow Him to teach you. Be open to hearing and learning and applying His Word to your life.

I’d love to hear what God is teaching you right now. Would you please comment below and let me know?

Notre Dame Coach learning from failure

I am an avid Alabama Crimson Tide fan.  I graduated from the University of Alabama many years ago.  Since the BCS National Championship was played in Miami this year, I was excited to be able to go to the game.  I was equally excited when the Crimson Tide won the national championship and beat Notre Dame.  I had a very bad experience going to Notre Dame for a game when I was a student at the University of Alabama.  So, it was doubly gratifying to win the game this year.

There was aBCSn interesting article recently on the website, “Fansided,” that was titled, Nick Saban Inspires Brian Kelly to have Notre Dame focus on Special Teams.  The bottom line of the article was that Brian Kelly realized that Alabama had its best players playing each aspect of the game to include special teams.  Many teams put the second stringers on their special teams. Alabama had its starters playing on special teams and Notre Dame did not.  So from the get-go Notre Dame was behind.  Brian Kelly was quoted in the article saying, “I want starters to be part of our special teams units…we’re going to be about it in the spring to really put our best players on special teams.”

Brian Kelly is obviously a life-long learner.  Just because he’s become the head coach of the storied Notre Dame program, he has not stopped learning.  I admire that in anyone.

The writer of Proverbs says, Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man, and he will learn more. Proverbs 9:9  I’ve met a lot of men who thought they knew everything about a subject and weren’t willing to learn something new.  I’ve met them in the military, in the ministry, and in organizations I’ve been a part of.  If a man is not willing to admit he doesn’t know everything in a certain area and become a learner, even when he’s arrived at one of the positions at the pinnacle of his profession, he’s destined to fail again and again.

I don’t think Brian Kelly will make the same mistake twice. My hope is that I’ll never be arrogant enough to think I can’t learn from someone else.  And my hope is that if Alabama meets Notre Dame in another athletic contest that Alabama will win again!

A Coffee Shop Legacy

Coffee ShopThe other day I was headed into my favorite coffee shop. I noticed an older gentleman getting out of his car.  He was kind of hunched over and moving very slowly. I noticed him in the store cleaning off the condiment area.  I thought, “man, that’s a nice guy cleaning the table.” Then I noticed him neatly placing a stack of Our Daily Bread devotionals on the condiment table.

I was so heartened and encouraged by what he’d done. Here is an old man in the last years of his life and what is he concerned about? His retirement? Enjoying the leisure life on the golf course? No, he was concerned with the eternal life of others. What an incredible legacy to leave.

I wonder how many people he influenced for God through the kind act of leaving devotionals where they might pick them up.

He reminds me of Caleb, who at 85 was still ready for battle.  He was God’s warrior, no matter what his age.

My bet is that kind of ministry keeps that godly gentleman young.

Psalm 92:14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.

What I learned last weekend.

These are just a few thoughts on what I learned last weekend.

I learned that pros don’t always act like it. I tried to watch the NFL ProBowl, but I couldn’t.  It was a lopsided event.  I noticed that it got so lopsided that both sides didn’t seem to care who won, so I didn’t either.  They were lackadaisical.  I have a profession.  Of course, in my case it’s a calling from God.  I don’t ever want to get either so discouraged that I don’t care anymore or so successful that I stop pushing to do things better.  Lord, keep me pushing forward for your Kingdom no matter what.

I learned that stuff happens. I did watch the College Football Senior Bowl.  In it Greg McElroy broke his hand.  He’s a quarterback and this could hurt his chances in the NFL draft.  He hit his hand on someone’s helmet in the middle of a pass.  It was something out of his control.  When things happen out of your control, it doesn’t help to worry or stress out about them.  What’s important is what you do next.  In spite of the circumstances, what can I do to move forward?

Things can improve. They don’t have to stay the same.  I also watched the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in basketball.  I rarely get to watch Bama Basketball.  It was fun watching them win by a significant margin.  The thing about Bama Basketball is that it was in the dumps for many years; usually bringing up the rear in the standings.  They got a new coach who has brought them a new spirit of competency and they now are competing.  Right now they are ranked 1st place in the Southeastern Conference.

God has created Christ-followers anew.  He’s made them new creations. If things are bad, know that with God carrying you through, things can get better.  That doesn’t mean the circumstances won’t be bad, but that he can work his purposes out in you no matter what and the circumstances don’t have to defeat you.

The Holy Spirit moves when I’m surrendered to him. God’s spirit really moved in church on Sunday.  I love it when He does.  People lives are changed.  They become more like Jesus.  But, the Holy Spirit is looking for the glory to go to Jesus.  If, in any way I try to take the glory and am not completely surrendered to Him, he doesn’t seem to move so readily. If you want God to work in your life, surrender completely—I mean white flag surrender…unconditionally and watch want God does.

The Process

I’ve been really struggling with blogging the last few weeks as you who follow this blog can attest. I’ve been kind of dry on the creative side and things have been really busy. So, just to get my fingers on the keyboard I want to talk briefly about “the process.”

Every pastor I know wants to grow the church. Now they may say spiritually, but many are really just interested in numbers. That’s how they measure success. Church people think the same way.  I got a call yesterday from a person that I met a few years ago.  He just called out of the blue and asked if our church was growing.  Let me be clear, I want many people to come to Christ.  I want heaven full.  But, Jesus commanded us to make disciples.  The discipleship process is what’s important.

I recently read, Nick Saban’s book, How good do you want to be?.    One of the things he said was to not look at the scoreboard, but concentrate on what you were supposed to do.  If you think about that it makes sense.  If we do what we’re supposed to do the numbers will take care of themselves.

So let’s be busy about the process of making disciples.  It starts with you becoming a disciple and then helping others come to faith in Christ and grow in that faith.  Let’s focus on our part, being and making disciples, and let God take care of His part, the scoreboard.

How to fight!

I’m at my in-laws this weekend celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary!  Wow!  That’s almost unheard of anymore.   I know that in their marriage they’ve had to endure a lot.  My father-in-law is a World War II veteran.  He had polio in his twenties.  They have lost children.  They’ve endured.  I asked them what they attribute to the longevity of their marriage.   They said it was because the focus of their marriage was Jesus Christ and He’s made all the difference.

As a church planter in Miami, there have been many times where I’ve been discouraged.  Jonah was discouraged because he didn’t want the people in Nineveh to repent. I get discouraged because the people in my city don’t repent and turn to God.  And even when they do, so many of them turn away from him again and again.  I have felt like I couldn’t keep doing this, but I do for the same reason; Jesus Christ.  He’s called me to this, he loves my city more than I do, so I gotta keep on keeping on, until I die or he changes the order. He makes all the difference.

Paul said to Timothy to pursue, among other things, endurance (1 Tim 6:11).  When I think about endurance it just sounds hard.  I’d much rather pursue other things.  I’d rather pursue ease, comfort, and fun.  But, life’s just not that way.  It is hard at times and we have to endure.  The next thing that Paul tells Tim after he tells him to endure is,1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called… The faith we are called to takes effort.  Not for the approval of God, because through Jesus Christ his grace means he loves us not because we work for it, but because he just does.

The life of faith can be hard at times.  God requires us to do things that are beyond us; that require his movement and strength in our lives and situations.  That’s how faith grows. It is at those time we must fight the good fight of trusting God not yourself and enduring.  Reggie White said, “God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.”  I’d add that “can carry its weigh in the strength of God.”  It’s a faith thing; a faith fight.

For those who are going through tough times let me encourage you that God will do something great in and around your life, if you endure.  Don’t give up.  Keep on fighting.  Endure. Keep focused on Jesus Christ! He makes all the difference.