Man’s Best Friend

ZoeFotorI do not believe in coincidence and I do believe in general revelation.  A little over four years ago, on my oldest daughter’s birthday, we picked up Zoe. Zoe was our first family dog and a beautiful Golden Retriever.  From the beginning she was mischievous, like most Golden puppies, yet she grew into being one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. She was always the first to greet me at the door with a big happy puppy smile and her bushy wagging tail. Zoe was our family dog, but I was her alpha, and that meant she looked to me for protection and affirmation. It was no coincidence we picked up the little puppy on June 29th 2013, but now we are on the brink of watching Zoe pass away. She has developed a pretty aggressive lymphoma and is in the last days of her short life.

I say it was no coincidence, because pets can be instant common ground that is the beginning of many great relationships. Having a Golden Retriever who is happy to see everybody and stands in your front yard to greet whomever walks by is the easiest way to get to know your neighbors. We developed some great relationships simply by Zoe greeting people in the front yard. Specifically our friends Paul and Sheena whose Goldendoodle bounded into our yard to greet Zoe, and the first conversation started. And now at the end, we had the opportunity to meet one of the most amazing and sweetest veterinarians I have ever met, Dr. Proshek at Kingsbridge Animal Clinic in Garland, Texas.  We have seen him and his amazing team pretty much once per week over the past 3 months as we have walked this journey with Zoe. We have become “regulars” at Kingsbridge and enjoy seeing everybody’s smiling faces as we drop Zoe off for her weekly visit. Zoe hangs out for the day and follows them around the office, takes a nap in Dr. Proshek’s office on the carpet, and simply shares her sweetness with the staff…Zoe has become one of their own. And we are so incredibly thankful for the care and love they have shared with Zoe and our family.

I believe in general revelation. General revelation is the belief that the Father (the Creator) is revealed throughout all his creation. Somebody said that “if I could be half the human my dog is, I would be twice the human I am.” While I am not entirely sure that is true, I definitely get what they were trying to say. Zoe is the sweetest and most forgiving dog I have met…that is something I could learn so much from. I was impacted to my core yesterday reading through the Gospel of Mark, specifically chapter 15. Mark states 4 times how Jesus was mocked and criticized, and yet He never retaliated…He did not seek out justice at a justified point in time; He simply turned the other cheek, and said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus was more interested in sacrificing Himself so that those who mocked Him had an opportunity to turn from their ways and pursue a relationship with God. Zoe represents the all too familiar unconditional love of a dog. General revelation of God is very clear, we simply need to open our eyes to the beauty around us.

Zoe is an amazing family pet, one we will never forget and cherish the many memories she blessed us with.  In death and in life there is mourning and joy, we simply have to look in the right places. There are no coincidence, there is only a plan leading to hope in the One who knows all and will bring an end to death and restore His perfect creation forever. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for (divinely guaranteed) will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). What I know is loss is NEVER for nothing, we must stop and look around us for the opportunities of relationships with those who are in need of Hope.

Hope, Love and Blessings,

Scott

 

What Happened to Respect?

Aragorn1_Fotor

My natural tendency is to see the best in people; I am often the optimist in the crowd.  I am not perfect by any means, but I know each person has extreme value regardless of the things they have done on this earth.  Sometimes that is a hard pill to swallow, because it means the murderer, the drug addict, the spouse who had an affair…they are all valuable as a human being.  They simply made some poor choices, but redemption is possible.

In our world we have reduced people to objects, thus stripping their humanity, their God given value away from the individual.  Women are objects in our society; out of one side of our mouth we cry for empowerment and equal rights, but out of another side we are more addicted to pornography than any other time in history…and this is NOT just a male issue!  We protect animals, which is good and just, yet we have a society who does not believe in the sanctity of human life.  We justify death, because of a human mistake or an inconvenience.  We go to Facebook and Instagram to openly share our “true” and “honest” feelings.  The only problem is our words of truth are filled with criticism, hate, disrespect, and it is all done in the name of “raw honesty.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we not be honest and open.  I am, however, suggesting we be respectful, loving, compassionate and always speak through the lens that we are just as messed up and damaged as the person we are talking about.  When we strip away the humanity, we inhibit our ability to be respectful and civil towards one another. Personally, I cannot think of anyone who was changed by another person berating and criticizing them for their mistakes.

I was reading a story this morning about the ultimate respect for a human being, and it wasn’t due to the persons righteousness or their kind deeds. It was solely because they were valuable in God’s eyes and the man wanted to respect the position that was held.

Let me summarize the story…Mark, was the CEO of a large company.  He had come from very meager beginnings, I believe it was a family of farmers. He was a tall and handsome man; he was the tall, slender, good looking guy you see on the cover of Inc. magazine leading the next fortune 500 company.  He was well respected by his people to the point they won a lot of business and crippled many of their competitors. Unfortunately, Mark began to elevate himself and before he knew it, he viewed himself as more important then his employees.  Mark began to make unilateral decisions, without the support or collaboration from his team.  Because of Mark’s perspective change, the company began to lose some very profitable customer contracts.

One thing Mark struggled with the most, due to his own insecurity, was his inability to raise up leaders in his organization.  The board of directors began to realize they had no succession plan for when Mark would retire from the company.  Unfortunately, this concern for succession planning was not even on the table until they began to lose some long term customers and contracts.  The individual board members made it their goal to get to know some of their employees.  They really had two goals in mind, 1) understand the culture and organization better and 2) to understand if there were any potential future leaders of the company within the walls of the organization.

The chairman of the board, being a smart and humble man, took a lowly mail room attendant out to lunch to understand the challenges the company had at the lowest level. When he met Matthew, he was shocked at the abilities the young man had.  Matthew was very respectful, full of vision and ideas, yet was tempered by a business sense that most seasoned business executives never gained.  Matthew was indeed a leader among leaders.  The chairman did his best to rattle Matthew a little and to get him to give him the honest truth about the organization, but all he would get from Matthew was an optimistic outlook for the organization.  Matthew would talk about systematic problems and solutions, but not once would he attack an individual personally, it was not part of his character to do that.

Over time Matthew moved up in the company, became a leader and built a good relationship with Mark and some of the members of the Board of Directors.  Matthew was different though, he would challenge the company, but would never challenge Mark, and in the end respected Mark as the CEO of the company.  Unfortunately Mark started to let his insecurities get the best of him and began to see Matthew as a threat to his position.  Mark, did his best to get Matthew demoted and even fired at times.  He made it his personal mission to remove Matthew from the company.  Matthew on the other hand never compromised in his support of Mark and the board of directors of the company. He understood that hurt people tried to hurt people, and he knew his only responsibility was to be a good steward of the things God had given him.

One afternoon Mark was presenting to a potential client, a client who could single handedly help the company meet their growth goal for the year.  As Mark was presenting he made a comment that did not sit well with Matthew and in a moment of pride, Matthew corrected Mark’s comment.  Matthew could have completely underhanded and compromised Mark’s leadership in that moment, but instead his conscience got the best of him and he apologized for interrupting Mark and offered his support for him as the leader of the company.  Matthew realized that even though he was right and Mark was wrong, he needed to respect the position that Mark held and the company he worked for. Matthew had an opportunity to speak “raw truth” that day and at the same time show the client and everybody else in that room how smart he was.  It was a moment driven by pride and the need to be right, but instead Matthew took the high road and offered his support to Mark.

In the end Mark was let go, because he allowed his pride to get in the way of serving the people, the Board of Directors and raising up future leaders for the organization.  When Mark left, the chairman of the board, with complete excitement, offered Matthew the role of CEO. Matthew humbly accepted the position and because of his servant leadership style, he had 100% support of most every employee within the company.

This story is one that is actually found in 1 Samuel; it is the story of King Saul and David. Saul ended up being a wicked and prideful leader, yet David, even having the opportunity to kill Saul, always took the high road.  David respected the position Saul held so much and had so much faith in God, he never put a hand on Saul.  At one point when Saul was in a most vulnerable state, David cut off a corner of his robe.  He had done this to simply prove he could kill Saul if he wanted to, but David was overcome with conviction over his disrespect of Saul and the position he held…he repented of his pride.

My question to myself and you is where has the respect for humanity gone?  Why do we feel the right and need to publicly and verbally crucify people because we do not agree with what they stand for or are doing?  Take our president for example.  He is not the best speaker, he seems to make rash decisions, and doesn’t appear to have the best moral compass in the world.  That said, he is our president and I respect the position of the President of the United States of America.  I also respect Donald Trump as a human being, one created by God himself.  Personally, I hold the belief that God placed the government and the leaders in power for a reason, and although I do not alway understand that reason, I trust the Lord (Romans 13:1-7).

So what do we do?  We stand for truth and principle.  We speak to the systematic problems and we offer solutions, never attacking individuals.  We live a life that is focused on finding a better way, problem solving the issues that are out there.  We truly live out the Gospel message, which is to surrender oneself for the betterment of the next generation.  We think long term, not seeking short term pleasure.  We raise our kids in a way that respects and loves humanity, yet shows them the only true answer to our problems and broken society is Jesus.  We watch our words, because words can destroy or bring life.  We make it our mission to pray for our leaders and seek the Lord for ways we can BE the change.

The only way we stop the lack of respect we see and experience today, is to give the respect God’s creation deserves expecting nothing in return.  The message of the Gospel is to lay down our lives for our brothers in action and words…so take a step today and stop talking about what needs to change and BE THE CHANGE you want to see.

Blessings,

Scott