Veterans Day: Freedom Isn’t Free

This picture was taken on Veterans Day 1995 during an Presidential Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I’m commanding the Army platoon to the left of the tomb.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak at Moorlands Elementary School’s Veterans Day Assembly. Here are the notes from my talk to over 700 students, teachers, and parents:

“From 1993-1998, I served in the United States Army as an Infantry Officer in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). While I was trained as a combat infantry platoon leader, I had an interesting assignment with The Old Guard. I performed military ceremonies for the Army in Washington D.C., at the White House, the Pentagon, and at Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was a unique assignment.

But more important than getting to see and meet really important people in Washington, D.C., I recognized the freedom we have as citizens of the United States. And here’s one of the most important things we need to know and remember about our freedom: Freedom isn’t free. It costs somebody something to preserve our freedom. For the past 236 years, men and women in the United States military have been willing to give their lives and pay the ultimate price for our freedom.

This week, citizens in our state and nation had the opportunity to vote. We have this privilege because American military men and women are protecting our freedoms and rights, which includes our privilege to vote. Remember that because freedom isn’t free. Never take it for granted. That’s one of the things that makes our country so great. We can all make sacrifices, whether we have served or will one day serve in the military or not. We can all remember that freedom isn’t free. We can all be boys and girls and men and women of character who are willing to put other people before ourselves. We can all be willing to make sacrifices in our personal lives, in our families, our local communities, our state, and our nation to help preserve our freedom and the freedom of people around the world.

As we celebrate our veterans this year, remember that freedom isn’t free. Freedom costs somebody something so that others might be free.”

Upside Down LEADERSHIP

This past Sunday, as we continued in our Upside Down series, we discussed the idea of “Upside Down LEADERSHIP.” Taking our cues Jesus’ life and leadership as told in Philippians 2:5-11, we discovered that Upside Down leaders (anyone who wants to have an influence and impact) have three qualities:

  1. Upside Down ATTITUDE of Humility
  2. Upside Down APPROACH of Servanthood
  3. Upside Down AGENDA of God’s glory

As you influence people and impact the world around you, are these qualities apparent in how you lead?

Here’s an example of extraordinary, upside down leadership from Northshore’s own Bob Wright (the chairman of our elder team).

For more resources on developing your leadership, visit the Leadership Development portion of my blog

What can and will you do to grow in your Upside Down Leadership?

Jesus is Not My Crutch

This is a guest post by my friend Marcia Gladwish who is battling stage 4 breast cancer. This is her artwork as well!

After two and one half months of chemo, one hopes to have progressed further, and I was disheartened by the news and began to cry a little with the doctor. “Why are you crying?” he asked softly. “I’m frustrated the tumor is essentially the same size.” (I look over at Alice, and she is trying not to cry. Well, OK, she is crying a bit.) My doctor is hopeful the tumor will be much more impacted by the pill, and he tries to convey this to me without promising anything.

I have nowhere to go but into the arms of Jesus – a place, really, I have been all along as His follower. It’s time to more completely settle in with Him in an even deeper way, a way I scarcely understand. I know I need to be more at home with Him than earth. I’m learning what that looks like.

Before my skeptical friends, who don’t quite buy this whole Jesus thing, say, “Aw, you poor thing, you need a crutch right now,” let me tell you as lovingly as I can, Jesus is not my crutch, my drug of choice, my cop out, my sedative, my new-age lavender dreamscape. He is just not.

Jesus really exists, and He is big and strong; He is really massive, and He proved that by dying on a lousy cross for each of us, so our darkness of heart and separation from God our Father, can be taken care of forever. So, don’t ever diminish Jesus as some lamb leading metro-guy who is without courage, enormous manly strength and pants. Plus, I want you to know that I know, He IS boundless love and compassion. He has shown me this over and over throughout my life. I am in those loving arms. I invite you there as well. Come to Jesus, the lover of your soul.

Be Ready for God to Use You

This is a guest blog post by Tim Burke, Northshore’s Pastor of Outreach & Local Mission

A few months ago I started praying differently. I felt like God was challenging me to open my eyes and heart to the unbelievers who I brush shoulders with every day. On my way home from work one night, I stopped by Subway and the TCBY to pick up a frozen yogurt.  As I was standing in line to pay for my dessert, I noticed a man next to me who was in a parallel line waiting to pay for his sandwich. As I watched him reach into his pocket for his wallet it was apparent he had not brought it with him. Just at that moment I looked at the cashier and said, “Put his sandwich on my card”. The man was speechless. The first words that came out of his mouth were, “Who are you?” That was a perfect open door for me to introduce myself and tell him about my new job as a Pastor at Northshore. The man thanked me and disappeared quickly. A moment later, he returned from his car with a business card. Written on the card was “one free home improvement” from his business. In turn, I gave him my card and invited him to join me sometime for church. He smiled and said he’d like that.

I share this story to encourage you. I also want to help you remember that when we open our hearts to reaching those who don’t know God in our community, He creates wonderful opportunities for us to love them. I don’t think there’s any big secret to loving those closest to us or inviting them to church. However, I have been praying in my devotional time this specific prayer from Colossians 4:3-4, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”

I want to encourage you to pray this way with me. Here’s how you can structure your prayers from Colossians 4:3-4.

God please:

Open a door: provide a natural opportunity for me to share the gospel today.

Open their heart: prepare the hearts of those who don’t know you to be receptive to Jesus.

Open my mouth: give me the words to say and confidence to speak to the lost.

I’d love to hear some of your stories about how God is using you to love those in our community who are far from Him. Send me an email at timb@nsb.org

 

Generosity of TOUCH

The Junior and Senior High Ministry just wrapped up a great year of small groups by having an appreciation dinner.  About 50 of our leaders came out for some Ooba’s Mexican food, a little piñata action, and some sharing of stories from the last year.  Our church has been blessed with some amazing volunteers.  Here were some of the stories and reflections:

  • A funny moment of reflection: When talking about relationships, a lesson discussed how “Below the Chin Touching” was a big No-No.  Well, one 6th grade girl proceeded to ask why touching below the chin is such a bad thing.  She scratched below her chin and couldn’t figure out what was so bad about chins.  Her leader chuckled at where this particular week’s discussion was going.
  • One leader pointed out how over a dozen of our current small group leaders actually grew up in Northshore’s Student Ministry…and now they are leading as adults.  One particular leader has grown up from eating all the coffee sugars and creamers to now discipling other boys.
  • A couple leaders shared how their young boys could not pray at all when the year started. But by the end of the year, they had moved on from just saying “Thanks God for this day,” to more personalized prayers.
  • One leader reflected on the relationship change with his guys, where now the guys call him for advice and help on some pretty deep issues.  It is no longer just a Tuesday night relationship.
  • One mom who is now a high school leader realized the importance of the other voices in the lives of a teenager besides just the parent.  The more positive voices, the better!
  • Another mom shared how this role as a youth leader is so outside of her personality…but her girls are pleading with her to come back next year and be their leader.

To all of our Student Ministry leaders – THANK YOU!

Generosity of TREASURE (a Tithing Story)

Todd Fredrickson, one of Northshore’s Overseers, sent me this story about the generosity value of TREASURE and his personal experience with tithing. Thanks Todd!

I started tithing while I was in graduate school, which was an interesting time to start because I have never been closer to the poverty line.  My tuition was paid for, but my stipend for books and living expenses was only $600 a quarter. And more than $200 of that went to rent. So, after my tithe and my rent, I was trying to stretch about $300 out across an entire quarter.

I ran out of money with three or four weeks left in the quarter.  It wasn’t life-threatening, because I knew that if I really had to I could ask my dad for money and he would gladly send me some.

But I also knew that that probably wasn’t what I was supposed to learn from my new commitment to tithing. So, one night after looking into cupboards and a refrigerator that were all but empty, I got down on my knees and prayed, “God, for the first time in my life I am trying to be obedient with my finances. But right now I don’t know what to do, and if you could encourage me somehow I’d be grateful.”

The very next day, when I picked up my mail, there was a check for some work I had done several months earlier while I was on a break. I had long since forgotten about it because at the time I did the work it seemed like a trivial amount. The check was for $23 and change, and $23 never felt like so much money. It covered my next trip to the grocery store.

Two weeks later, same thing. No money. Food almost gone. Similar prayer. “God, here I am again. I am ashamed to have to ask you for some encouragement again so soon, but I could really use some.”

The next day, I was walking across campus, past the office of a man I knew from my previous school who worked in the athletic department. I thought, “You know, I should drop in and say ‘hi’ to Steve. It’s been a while.”  I popped into his office, and we had a great chat, catching up on a couple years’ worth of changes in each other’s lives.

As I was getting up to leave, he said, “Oh, by the way, CBS is broadcasting our basketball game tomorrow, and they asked me to round up some help.  If you’re available, I could use you. I think they’re paying $50.”

Fifty dollars! That would easily get me through the end of the quarter, with plenty to spare. It could just as well have been a million dollars for how happy and relieved I was.

Now, I know the skeptics will attribute all of this to coincidence. After all, that check for $23 was something I had coming to me. It’s not like God made it fall out of the sky so I could find it on the sidewalk. But it was all about God’s timing. I had completely forgotten about it, and God used it at just the right moment to encourage me.

And I had walked past Steve’s office 100 times without ever once thinking that I should go in. Why did I get that prompting at the perfect time? That’s not a coincidence. It was the Spirit setting a divine appointment to encourage a young believer who was, for the first time, trying to be obedient with his money.

I’m not suggesting that because I was tithing, God owed it to me to provide money every time I felt squeezed.  Nor am I saying that He has always done so or will do so in the future.  No way is that what I’m saying.  But I do know that God is faithful and loving as well as sovereign, and since that time I have never had any trouble tithing.

What stories can you share about God’s providence as you responded generously with your treasure?

For a great book on Generosity and Treasure, see Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle.