Devotionals For Leaders: Overwhelmed By A Burden?

overwhelmed

Not all burdens are bad…there are some that are placed on us by God Himself and He intends us to do something about them. Namely what we are to do is to cast them back onto Him. No one is meant to bear their burden alone. God is not asking us to be solely responsible for whatever our burden is. In fact, when we try to be solely responsible, we run the risk of supplanting God and His power in people’s lives. God’s intention with whatever we sense a strong burden is not that we would be the complete answer but that we would labor along with Christ in prayer, service and love until the burden is gone. Burdens become burdensome and overwhelming when we start taking matters into our own hands instead of allowing God to be in control.

The leader must identify with the burden, whatever it is in a real way. Some people take up causes and ideas but they are short-lived because the leader did not have a real burden. It was more of a nice gesture or empty sentiment. A real and true burden will run the danger of being all-consuming, devouring every ounce of energy. It is for this reason that the leader must consciously return back to Christ and lay the burden onto His shoulders.

Oswald Chambers said:

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “…the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship.

As leaders, Jesus invites us into the world of those who are weary and heavy laden, not only that we may share in bearing their burdens but ultimately that we may lead them to Christ, who alone gives rest and peace. Jesus doesn’t give us a burden for someone or some cause with the intention of us becoming so overwhelmed that we become of no use. But we will be of little to no use when we don’t give the burden back to Christ. Our burdens may be great but our God is greater. This is our hope and our joy; our confidence is found in Him who gives us strength to bear whatever burden He has placed on us.

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Love Like A Hurricane

Love Like A Hurricane HeaderPure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

2014-07-04 11.13.17We didn’t really know what to expect. After the storm was over, Hurricane Arthur had done some damage but nothing terribly extensive. I had been staying with some friends and their trampoline suffered damage. Everything else were just broken branches.

I had gotten up early that morning to drive to the beach and survey the damage in other ares but didn’t really see too much aside from a few broken business signs. The beach was pounding with strong waves but the sky was really clear.

About the time I was leaving the beach area, I received a call from my mom asking me if I could help a mutual friend of ours who attends the Korean Church. She’s a widow and at home by herself. She had a downed tree and a little bit of roof damage, (a shingle had blown off). I told her I’d take the two interns and go over and see what we could do.

When I arrived to pick up the interns, I mentioned to my friend that we were heading over to Beaufort to do some work on a friend of my mom’s house and she told me that there was a friend of hers that had a lot of work he was doing on his house. Evidently, the storm had really blown a lot of branches and debris around in his yard. So I got his address and told her that we would swing by there too in order to help.

2014-07-04 13.08.44Trevor, Jan and I made our way over to Mrs. Kim’s house. Once there, we did some fairly easy clean-up, moving some branches, picking up pears, replacing the shingle and applying some tar sealant around an air vent that was leaking. We were there for less than an hour but just from that little bit of work, we were able to put her mind at ease as she was preparing to leave for Korea in a couple weeks. It blessed her but it was a bigger blessing to us. She donated some money and even though I resisted the offer several times, she would not be denied! She gave us the gift and we gratefully accepted. It paid for our lunch that day!

Having no idea what to expect next, we made our way to the other guys’ house. I know this guy a little bit, just meeting him causally a couple times. I had no real meter on his spiritual level or regard to Christ, although I did feel pretty confident he had at least grown-up in church or been exposed at some point in his life. I also knew that at this point in his life, it seemed he was not very involved in church or engaged in a purposeful relationship with Christ. Nonetheless, we didn’t go to evangelize or proselyte per se. We went to serve. We went to help someone in need. We went to be a friend.

tree branchesPulling into the driveway, he was pulling some branches and as I exited the car, I yelled his name and announced our intention to help him out. He said: “I’m sure as Hell not gonna stop you!” We got out and started pulling branches and limbs to the front of the house as he cursed each one we grabbed. We worked and chatted about storms, about his property and life on the east coast of NC. After moving a significant amount of rubbish, we raked up, scooped up and piled up bunches of pine cones and needles.

Just before we left, he shared with us about the lady next door who seemed to be out of town because she had not been seen since the storm and there was a good amount of debris in her yard. Assuming she wasn’t home, we jumped over to her yard, moved a few large limbs and then some smaller ones. With those tasks completed, we began with our good-byes. We shook hands with our acquaintance who was very appreciative and then left.

Now, I shared all of that to get to this point. We served a couple of people for a few hours max. It wasn’t hard work but necessary work. It wasn’t meant to be glamorous or anything really more than friendly with the hope that Christ would be glorified in our actions. We didn’t promote ourselves or any church. We didn’t talk about anything deep or spiritual for that matter. All we did was serve, BUT it made a HUGE DIFFERENCE!

Since that time, that guy we helped, has told my friend over and over how nice it was to have had the help. He spoke of how uncommon it was for people to just reach out, accept nothing in return and then just leave. He simply couldn’t believe that we would do what we did. My friend wrote me and said that this guy was so touched by our helping him out that day impacted him so much that he decided to go to church, which he had not done in more than 20 years! (Now he has gone twice! And once by himself to a new church!) He has been listening to a Christian radio station and to some Joyce Myers audio. It’s just amazing what God can do through a simple act of kindness to show someone his incredible love like a hurricane! Keep praying for him and that God continues to reveal his love and power. And remember that the way God may do it most is through your reaching out in love to another.

George ProfileGeorge Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA as the mission/creative pastor.

Schools: The New Warzone?

the new warzone final

Wars. Guns. Fights.

You would think I was talking about Iraq or Syria but I’m not. These are all subjects I was reading about today concerning schools!  With the recent Newtown shooting and this article I read by Carl Willis on incidents at a Dekalb County School I have come  to the conclusion that schools are the new warzones in America.

The first article that caught my attention was this one of a young 11-year-old honor student who was beaten up by a classmate and is now in an induced coma because of head trauma and concussion. The “bully” got a 2 day suspension. 2 days? No charges? I am astounded by the fact that a kid can be beaten up and the assailant only gets a two day suspension with no pending charges at this point. It’s not that I am looking for some kind of capital punishment here but I wonder how it’s possible to beat up another kid and only have 2 days away from school? At least  the little 5-year-old  girl who brought the Hello Kitty Bubble Gun to school was labeled a “terrorist” and initially given a 5 day suspension, which was reduced to 2 days.(I’m being sarcastic).

A few days ago I saw an article about a 9th-grader who possibly committed suicide because he had been bullied (Details still forthcoming). With this information I researched to see how many school shootings there have been in 2013. It’s a jaw-dropping 8! Of course all of these are not necessarily related to bullying. Instead some are gang-related, brought on through senseless violence or the outcome of aggressive behavior while a teen had possession of a weapon. In Dekalb County, GA, 6 students were arrested in a 10-day span a few months ago! The issue is clear, schools are not “safe places” any longer. Whether it’s bullying in the form of fights to assaults with deadly weapons, schools are warzones for our kids.

So what can we do as parents, youth workers, and leaders in our communities do to help curb this violence and re-create safety in our schools?

1) Deal with the issues head-on.

We can’t pretend like these things are not happening. From bullying on school buses to playgrounds and safety responses to proper protocol in the event of a school shooting, all of us need to be aware of procedures and steps in deling with these major school issues. Talking to our kids about safety, helping them understand how to deal with bullying proactively, and engaging in open, real, honest dialogues with schools is what must happen if we are to curtail this new war at school. It’s going to take more than the school administrators, resource officers or POTUS to put an end to this war! We tend to discriminate about age on these kind of things but with the Newtown shooting in mind, we cannot postpone dealing with hardcore, serious issues once our kids are school age. We must have sessions and seminars and invite school and community leaders to our churches to educate parents. We need to build healthy relationships and partnerships with schools. We must deal with these things with all gravity and seriousness. Get involved!

2) Pay attention to your child’s feelings.

As a parent/leader/adult, we have the responsibility to be watchful over things that may be “signs” of bullying, gang behavior, violence etc. Paying attention to your child is what may save their lives in the end. Teaching and talking to them about such hot topics as gun control, violent video games, music they are listening to, movies they watch, etc. can give us a quick and true glimpse into their real worldview and help us see any “danger” or “red flags.” When we discuss these topics with our kids, they give us “feelings” for their answers. Those “feelings” are what help us understand where they are in their maturity and rational. For children, teens and many adults, feelings are what leads to action, not rational, logical thinking. Knowing what your kid is feeling and thus thinking can be the difference between life and death. Get involved!

3) Be involved in your kid’s “social life”.

There is no reason we as adults shouldn’t be involved in the social media and technological worlds of our kids. What your kid may call “stalking” is actually good parenting. Leaving them on their own in a jungle like the internet is a surefire way to allow negative and dangerous influences affect them. As an adults we should monitor the online personas and lives of our kids. Being involved in this way will help prevent things like cyberbullying and help us be aware of what is truly feeding their minds and nurturing their souls. Furthermore, limiting the amont of time given to violent games, online places to visit via XBOX LIVE etc., and technology in general, also pulls them back into the “real” world where face -to-face conversations can take place and we can help equip them for “real” life. Share your life with your kids, don’t let technology replace you…or anyone else for that matter. Get involved!

4) Act immediately.

If you have a concern or think there may be an issue with bullying, safety or crime don’t hesitate to act. Any threat is a serious threat whether it’s bullying to terrorism. Listening for what’s not being said is as important as any “red flag” we may see.  If you see or sense that something is wrong, investigate and don’t stop until the issue is truly resolved. I’m convinced that it’s more dangerous than ever to be a student attending a school but I’m not convinced that it’s too late. We must act now! We must pray now!  Get involved now!

Schools will not only be the warzones of the present but the graveyards of the future, if we don’t act now. 

Life Lessons: Car Prep

Because I travel a lot, here are a couple things I would highly recommend someone to keep in their car to make their travel more pleasant and safe. I have not included some items like phone chargers/ipod chargers because I feel like almost everyone should know these are a must. But here are a few things that maybe you might not feel are as important or haven’t thought about.

Jumper Cables

Being that I have had dead batteries often for no apparent reason, having a set of jumper cables has proven to be worth their weight in gold. It’s been interesting to note how often I have needed a set but I didn’t have them nor did anyone I approached for help. If you keep a set in your car, then all you need is a kind soul to open their hood.

Gas Can

I have only run out of gas a couple times however, the first time should have been enough for me to realize how important having a gas container in the car would be! You won’t be sorry if you have one on hand if and when you ever run out…especially on the highway.

Flashlight/Glow Stick

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying use your silly phone to illuminate your engine when you really need a flashlight. Just get an LED flashlight and you’ll be able to see so much more and you won’t run the risk of dropping your phone and breaking it, which will only make things worse.

Extra Clothes

Having a spare pair of shoes/sandals in the car is always a good idea, simply because rainy days or days at the beach or something crazy could always happen and then you are stuck without. You’ll never regret having dry shoes, socks or clothes. It’s never a bad idea to have a spare shirt and shorts in the car; it can be invaluable in an emergency.

Toilet Paper

Not trying to be gross but I would never recommend leaving home without it. I’ve been on enough mission trips and with enough people to know that Mother Nature doesn’t always wait until it’s convenient.

Napkins

Make good use of the napkins you pick up from fast food restaurants. Instead of trashing them, keep them in the glove compartment. You can always use them for clean ups, sneezes, etc.

Notebook With Names And Numbers

Again with our reliance upon technology increasing, we have less and less memorized. When your phone battery dies on the road, what will you do? Having a small notebook with important numbers, names and addresses can be a lifesaver for yourself or be very helpful for emergency works in the event of an accident. Make sure you have working pen in the car too!

These are just a few things I’d recommend. Maybe you have some advice…what do you recommend we keep in our cars?