Pastor

In the aftermath of the recent tornado that ripped through Oklahoma, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson offers a simple prayer of hope.

It’s inspiring to see these folks use their influence for good.

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If there were a hall of fame for heroes, Johnny Cash would be in it.

Of course, his musical career is legendary and continues to stand the test of time. But what makes him a hero, that special quality he had, was his raw honesty. In his songs, in his story, and with his gritty style.  His troubles are well-documented, but so is his remarkable change.  He serves as a reminder that no matter how far down the road we’ve gone, it’s never too late to turn back around.

What follows are a collection of quotes that speak to what it means to be a man. Let’s learn from the Man in Black himself as he shares some of his wisdom with us.

Leader

On being yourself: “To love who you are and what you do, and to have faith in your ability to do it. You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.”

“I’m not talking about ego, and arrogance, and grandiose feelings. I’m talking about self-esteem and confidence. That’s vital: self-esteem and confidence.”

Mate

On what his marriage has meant to him: “We have a sharing marriage, and we share the road, we share the bedroom, we share the backstage, onstage, we share the music, the feeling, and the emotion, and the joy of it, you know. And the pain and the sadness of it. We share the love of our children. It would be terribly lonely not to have someone to share those things with me. And she’s not only a lady who I share my life with, but she may have been the person responsible for my still being alive. She and God. Because she came along at a time in my life that I was on self-destruct, and she saw what I was doing to myself and she helped bring me back up out of it. And we’ve fought and worked hard to keep our feet on the ground since then. But like I say, today is a good day.”

Producer

On how to succeed: “I could go by a lot of catch phrases like, ‘Know your own self,’ ‘To thine own self be true.’ Self-esteem and perseverance and confidence are all important, but the first thing is to know what you want to do. Set that goal out there and never lose sight of it, and work toward it. And know that there are going to be byways and sidetracks, but keep persevering and keep on, and do what you know that you want to do.”

Provider

On what his father meant to him: “My father was a man of love. He always loved me to death. He worked hard in the fields, but my father never hit me. Never. I don’t ever remember a really cross, unkind word from my father. He was a good, strong man who provided for his family. That was his sole purpose in life when I was growing up.”

Warrior

On the purpose of the human body: “People say, ‘Well, he wore that body out.’ Well, maybe I did. But it was to a good purpose. They should be thankful that I wore it out to the purpose I wore it out and that was writing and recording and touring and doing concerts. Everywhere I could possibly do them that I thought I might enjoy them. I thought people might enjoy me.”

Healer

On getting past your past: “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

Gentleman

On his fashion style: “I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion— against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others’ ideas. Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkly clothes, and cowboy boots. I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I’ve worn black clothes ever since.”

Coach

On what advice he’d give to young folks: “Youth shouldn’t be clouded by any chemical or anything. Somebody my age can easily know that too, but youth is too wonderful a thing to mess with while you’ve got it.”

“Children, all your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate… I choose love.”

Pastor

On how his faith fueled him: “The Bible is the source of the greatest joy. It’s a great moral stabilizer in a world that’s run amok. It’s an anchor for my own conscience, my own mind and my own life. It keeps my feet on the ground. It gives the answer to every problem you’re facing, if you look for it.”

“God loves us. That’s why he created us and gave us free will. Kind of like a farmer watching his chickens to see what they’re going to do. It desires that we all come back to him. That’s the way I think, that’s my God.”

Are there any other words from Johnny Cash that have inspired you?

 

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Let’s face it. Finding a church can be as awkward as a blind date. You don’t know what you’re stepping into. You want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, but you don’t want to end up with a bunch of crazy people in some strange place with the exit doors blocked off.

To help you in your quest to find a church to belong to, here are five questions to help you navigate the awkwardness.

Sunday Best

Photo courtesy: Kevin Dooley

1. Do I agree with their core beliefs?

To make sure you don’t end up in a cult, you need to know what the church believes in. For me, as a Christian, I would start by visiting their website and reading their statement of faith.

As I read through it, I would ask myself the following questions:

  • Do they believe in the Trinity (Father, Son, & Spirit)?
  • Do they hold the scriptures in highest regard?
  • Do they believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?
  • Do they believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ?
  • Are they ultimately about loving God and others?

These are essentials that all Christian churches share despite their denomination, affiliation, or style.

If they do believe in the essentials, move on to question 2.

If not, keep looking.

2. Can I get behind their mission and leadership?

Can you visit a church gathering or website and clearly know why they exist? It’s important because you want to know what you’re jumping into. If they don’t have a purpose, proceed with caution. A church without a mission is like a person without air. A church that’s fully alive and on mission will often be strong in word and deed. They are sharing the good news of the gospel while also meeting tangible needs in the community and beyond.

If you do know their mission, can you go along with it, get behind it, and support it? Do you respect the leadership of the church? Do you want your name to be associate with them?

If so, move on to question 3.

If you can’t, and you’re a believer, why?
If it’s because their mission is off-track or leadership is suspect, keep looking.
If it’s because you’re a know-it-all who is never satisfied, get over yourself. :)

3. Are outsiders welcomed here?

When it comes to style and preferences, everything is subjective. The fact is, it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. Mega-churches, house churches, traditional churches, contemporary churches, organic churches, contemplative churches, creative churches, and so on.

Regardless, could you invite someone who was exploring their faith to a gathering of this church and not creep them out? Would they be accepted and feel welcomed?

If so, please advance to question 4.

If not, consider moving on from this church. The stakes are too high, and those you know and love matter too much, to be involved with an insiders club.

4. Can me and my family connect with this community?

If you have a family, you must keep them in mind when considering churches. If you’re married, I urge you to listen to your spouse’s intuition. If this church isn’t a community she can connect with, it will be difficult for you to connect with.  As a parent, you would also want to know if there’s a vibrant and engaging children’s ministry for your kids to belong to. If you’re single, hopefully this is a community you can feel comfortable in as well.

Is there are strong sense of community here? Is there the potential for you, and your family, to have meaningful relationships with the people here?

If so, go to question 5.

If not, continue looking. A church should be a place where strangers become friends, and friends become family. Don’t settle for less.

5. Do they have grace on tap?

God loves us just as we are and not as we should be. God also loves us enough not to leave us there. Likewise, a gospel-driven church has grace on tap. At the same time, honesty and authenticity are a crucial element of the gospel. When we can admit that none of us are perfect, we can better see the One who is. When we can concede that we are not as we should be, we can grow to become who we are meant to be.

Is this church real, plastic, or something else? Chances are, if you’ve gotten this far, this is a solid church. Hopefully, they can point to God’s grace, smile, and call it amazing. Because it is.

No church is perfect though. If a church is missing something, you may be the one to fill the need. You may be the answer to a prayer. God may have brought you there for a reason.

It’s important to remember that as Christians, we aren’t shopping for a product or service, we are searching for a people to belong to. A people who are on a mission to be good news, and bring good news, in a world of bad news. All because of what the Good Lord did for us.

What things would you say folks should explore before joining a church community?

 

 

 

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“My arms are too short to box with God.” – Johnny Cash

You can find more manly motivation here.

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“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” {Isaiah 1:17} 

GoodSirs takes its cue from heroic verses like this. Look at the truth it’s dropping and tell me this is not the stuff of heroes?  It describes someone…

  • Who does what’s right.
  • Who seeks justice (evildoers beware).
  • Who defends those who can’t defend themselves.
  • Who takes up a cause that matters.
  • Who speaks up for those who don’t have a voice.

That fires me up! It reminds me not only why GoodSirs exists, but why all of us exist.

We are all designed to be heroes. And if you’re a person of faith, this should add fuel to what you believe. And what you believe should drive how you live.

Notice the verse’s use of action verbs (Learn, Do, Seek, Defend, Take, Plead). It doesn’t allow its reader to take a passive stance, it challenges us to play offense. To pick up our fists and fight for something that matters! It doesn’t allow a doctors note or any other excuses, it demands nothing less than action.

I love how it begins with learning to do right, because it speaks to what kind of person we are. It starts with us and what we’re made of on the inside. What you made of? What’s in your heart? Why are you here? Who you are will determine how you live.

From there, it requires us to know what is right so that we can seek justice (make things right). This calls us to know why we believe what we believe. This is soul work because that sense of right and wrong comes from somewhere. Is it from God, is it instilled in us, is it both?  It forces you to look at hard questions like: How come torturing and killing a little girl is wrong in all cultures in all times?  When you’ve arrived at the place where you see that there’s something (Someone) bigger than us at play, you will live for something bigger.

When you’re living out this verse, you quickly realize it’s not about you. It’s about how you can serve others. You see that the strong have a moral obligation to stand on behalf of the weak, especially those who are being pushed down and trampled on. When I see folks crusade against bullying, human trafficking, poverty, fatherlessness, and more, I see a divine spark. I see a hero.

To take up the cause of the fatherless is to find a wound in this world and to put a bandage on it. I take this one to heart because GoodSirs is taking up the cause of the fatherless. We’re fighting for fathers to be there in full and not retreat, because fatherlessness is epidemic in our country. 1 in 3 children are growing up without their dad around. Which also means1 in 3 dads are missing out on the joy of raising their kids. That’s a story that must change. Do your part to bring healing, joy, relief, and a remedy to issues in this world. There are millions of causes to take up.

Pleading the case for the widow is to speak for those who don’t have a voice. In a patriarchal society, widows were often left without ample provision and without a say. If they were fortunate, someone (often a family member) would look after them and any children they had. Today, there are many without a voice. Who will make sure they aren’t forgotten, neglected, or ignored?  Who will speak up for them?  We don’t have the option to look around, we have orders to look at ourselves. It’s on us.

YOU WANT TO BE A HERO? TAKE THIS VERSE TO HEART AND LIVE IT OUT.


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Brilliant author and thinker, Leonard Sweet, shares a remarkable story in his must-read book, “So Beautiful” on the longing for human connection.

“A missionary writes of a leading a mission trip to the South African country of Namibia. The first thing his team noticed in the local village in which they were staying was that women had to walk every day to a well with a huge heavy bucket on their heads to fetch water.

‘We immediately decided to do something about it.’ he said.

Within two weeks flashy new water pipes were delivering water to every little hut in the village.

Within a week after the installation of the plumbing, the villagers removed all the pipes and piled them politely on the outskirts of the village.

When the missionary asked why they had plundered the plumbing and undone all their hard work, the Namibians explained that it is customary for women to walk to a well with other women sharing their experiences about life. Carrying heavy buckets on the head while chatting with friends. ‘It’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.’

When the walk to the well was taken away and life was made ‘never so good,’ life was really made ever so difficult.”

Never underestimate the power of relationships.  We’ll go to great lengths for them- even carry buckets of water on our heads. It’s in the fabric of our being.

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