Blood from a Turnip

“You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.”

I heard that phrase lots while I was growing up and, to be honest with you, I had no idea what it meant until well into adulthood (along with many other colloquialisms, I’m a slow learner).

The thing that really brought this alive to me was ministry, and dealing with such a variety of people.  I remember praying for a young man one night at the tail end of a church service.  He came asking for prayer because he was struggling with thoughts of violence.  He claimed he would drive the streets at night looking for a fight to pick.  He said he couldn’t help himself and really wanted God to intervene.  Out of the blue (or by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) I asked him what kind of movies he liked to watch.  He proceeded to give me a list of the most violent, agro-filled, angry films on the market.  What surprised me was that he really didn’t know why he felt so violent all the time!  He was clueless to the fact that all the garbage he was taking in was making its way out.

What we fill our souls with doesn’t end with our subconscious reactions to entertainment though.  One lesson I’m constantly reminding myself of, as a minister, is that I can’t give away what I don’t have.

As leaders, we have a responsibility to be filling up.  If we’re going to give others more than pithy sayings, trite answers, and fake smiles, then we MUST be filling ourselves up!  We must be on our knees before Jesus, we must be filling up on His word, and we must be gleaning from the faith generals that have gone before us.

So many leaders are running on an empty tank and they’re useless.  They’ve exchanged refueling for the sense of accomplishment they get from working ridiculous hours.

OK, I’m going down a rabbit trail so I’ll end.

You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, you can’t get salt water from a fresh water stream, and you can’t get depth, wisdom, and anointing from a leader who isn’t deliberately being filled with the Spirit and wisdom of God.

Take time to be filled up.  Read, pray, rest, and grow.  The people you are leading need you to.

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Resistance Isn’t Futile

I was at the doctor’s office recently and we had a conversation about the Swine Flu.  I’m not a huge fan of vaccines and my question was, “What’s the worst case scenario if a guy like me decides not to take the shot?”  His answer? “You’ll be laid up for a few days until your body builds up the antibodies and fights it off.”  Interesting.  When we get sick, our bodies build up the strength to overcome it.

I find it extremely interesting that heavier weights (also called resistance) increase muscle strength, unfamiliar subjects fortify our minds, and difficult circumstances cause us to grow in wisdom, patience, and faith.

Pain, resistance, difficulty, adversity.  These things toughen us.  We’d turn to mush without them.  In fact I’m sure I know people who have turned to mush because they go into denial, dodge pain, or give up and wallow in self-pity.  After all, it’s far easier to quit, blame, or feel sorry for ourselves than go through the ringer one more time.  “Who wants more patience?”  “I have enough, thanks.”

I once heard Sam Chand say that our capacity to grow is directly proportional to our capacity to endure pain.  How true!  Once we decide that we’ve had enough, we stop growing.  I love Tylenol’s recent marketing slogan, “Push through the pain.”  When we want to give up, when we can’t find the answer, when it all seems too hard, PUSH THROUGH!  I’ve found that simply NOT throwing in the towel has tremendous value.  Most of the time, breakthrough happens just the other side of wanting to give up.

One of these days I’ll probably tell my story on this site, but let’s just say it’s not a pretty one.  I’ve had to endure some pretty great pressure and, even though I wouldn’t want to repeat all the obstacles, I treasure the work God has done in me through them.  I’ve gained wisdom, insight, endurance, and compassion for others.  Those things have prepared me for the work He has called me to and I thank Him for all of it.

Romans 5:3 & 4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

If you’re feeling pressure, resistance, or stress stay the course!  Your muscles are growing, your mind is sharpening, your emotions are getting stronger.  Growing is more important than the false peace found in giving up.  When it’s all said and done, you’re gonna be a butt kicker.  Just wait and see!

Lover of Scripture

We’re doing Advent again this year and I really love it!  After dinner each night, we take about five minutes out to light the candle, read the scripture, and talk about our Savior’s birth.  If you’ve ever thought about introducing family devotion, then Advent is the perfect introduction.  Besides, family traditions are important and this is a great one to add to the list.

This year, my youngest son wants to do everything.  He lights the candle (with a little help) and often volunteers to read.

That’s it!  Forgive me for my self indulgence but I’m as proud as can be of my boy.  He reads Isaiah like an old pro!  Enjoy the video!