Emotional Baggage Claim

Emotional BaggageIt’s an all too familiar scene after each flight we take. No sooner do the wheels hit the tarmac, and travel weary passengers erupt into life as if each seat injected its comatose passengers with 5cc’s of epinephrine. Nervous apologies are made as people compulsively burst from their seats and start yanking their bags and belongings from the overhead compartments. Throats nervously cleared. Passive aggressive (some outright aggressive) elbows are thrown. Knees are knocked. Heads are clonked. The frenzy is just beginning.

Eyes glazed over, the dazed and confused passengers stampede toward the baggage claim like hogs to the slaughter. I think I’ve even heard a few oinks and squeals along the way! The first few to arrive look a little bewildered as they attempt to confirm which magical carousel will jettison their precious cargo. With anticipation that rivals Christmas Morning, passengers feverishly alternate their glances between their watches, clocks on the wall, and the screens above. While some have transfixed their gaze upon their hallowed cellphone as if it were a crystal ball revealing the lottery numbers from this week’s Power Ball.

Welcome to Baggage Claim!

I’ll admit it’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, and even the competition of disembarking the plane to get to your meeting, start your vacation, or to fall into the warm embrace of those who may be anxiously awaiting your arrival.

While this scene alone is ripe with allegories, analogies, and metaphors, I’d like to share some thoughts about a baggage claim of another sort.

Your Baggage is Heavier Than You Think

Baggage comes in many shapes, sizes, and capacities. This holds true for physical baggage AND emotional baggage. Somewhere along your life’s travels, you’ve acquired a great many “souvenirs.” Events, both good and bad, all leave unique imprints upon you, your mind, your heart, even your entire outlook on life. Unresolved pain, unresolved issues, and pent up feelings of anger, resentment, or bitterness, can start to become part of the baggage we carry around. The sad irony is, this baggage can subtly grow so heavy over a period of time, that we don’t even realize the weight we’ve been carrying around until, and this is important, we set it down.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

“Setting it down” can mean a lot of things. For the purpose of this post’s theme, we will call it “checking our baggage.” When we “check” our baggage, we present it before someone; an attendant. They inquire about the contents, they determine the weight, you pay a price, and they whisk it away until you reach your next destination.

We’ve personally checked in baggage before that exceeded normal weight limits. Of course these limits are established by the airline, but our own capacity to carry things we have no business carrying seems to grow. It’s often not until we place it on a scale, that we realize the true weight of what we’ve been carrying for who knows how long.

Checking your baggage every once in a while is healthy. In fact, we’ve had so many surprises at the airport check-in, we purchased a scale of our own to determine how heavy our baggage is. We don’t like surprises. Routinely checking in on your own baggage with a trusted friend, counselor, pastor, or mentor, are excellent ways of ensuring your baggage isn’t interfering with your ability to grow, thrive, and even excel.

Airlines use a pre-flight checklist to check and re-check every safety aspect of their planes. Our lives, and the lives of our loved ones depend on it. They check it so they don’t wreck it! Being excessively weighed down by baggage (and too many passengers – life has those too) can inhibit an airplane’s ability to safely take-off, reach altitude, and safely land. The emotional weight of your baggage can in like manner adversely affect your ability to take-off, reach your potential, and to safely arrive at your destination of a fulfilled and purposeful life in Christ.

“Let ‘er Rip!”

old luggage cartNow in our mid-forties, there’s a terrific service at some of the airports we frequent, that we’ve started to use. These big strapping fellows who are all too willing to toss your bags up on these luggage carts and push them right up to the counter, your shuttle, or your car. For a nice tip, they’re friendly enough and will point you in the right direction of a good restaurant, hotel, or area attractions.

1 Peter 5:6 – 8 instructs us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour…”

The Greek word here for “casting” comes from the root word “rhipto” or phonetically said, “rip-toe” which means to hurl forcefully. I like to think Peter was saying, like we would in our post-modern vernacular, “Let ‘er rip!” This phrase is a little dated, but basically is said when someone is about to launch something.

Could it be that Peter, a couple thousand years earlier would have realized our propensity for carrying things around we have no business carrying? Could it also be that Peter, during his early days with Christ, realized his own innate inclination toward carrying around things that interfered with his walk with the Lord? These verses provide us with such tremendous spiritual insight into how best to handle the baggage that causes us so much heartbreak. But, according to Peter, one of the preconditions to being afforded this powerful privilege is humility.

Lower Before You Launch

Before we can ever expect to launch, we must be willing to lower ourselves; humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. When you humble yourself under His Hand, it will literally allow God to give you a hand, not just any hand, His Hand! It will be His Hand that will carry the seemingly insurmountable weight of your grief, your pain, your sorrow, your anxiety, your fears, your worries; all your care! And, it will be His Hand that will “exalt you in due time.” That word “exalt” means to restore your dignity, your honor, and your rightful place in Him.

Like those big brawny lads at the airport that magically appear at your trunk as you’re unloading your baggage, Jesus is lovingly there saying, “Hey toss that over here! I got this!” You may wince, like we do sometimes when we think about how heavy our bags are before the guys pick them up, but you never for a moment have to doubt that Jesus can take it. He’s more than proven Himself. He overcame Death and Hell…it’s safe to say Jesus can handle anything else you “throw” His way!

Music to Your Ears

When we check our baggage with the Lord, it would behoove us all to, in the in the now infamous and lyrically addictive words of Elsa in the Disney Movie “Frozen,” Let it go…let it go!

Upon your arrival to God’s Divine purpose and calling for your life, don’t compulsively run over to baggage claim like a moth to a flame to look for your bags to pick them up again. The words of the old spiritual song are never truer than at this moment, “Leave them there…leave them there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there!”

Once we give it to God, don’t lay claim to it any longer. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant.” The enemy is diabolical and deceitful. He will try to deliver the old baggage of your past in a brand new fancy bag with a bright red bow. Do not take delivery. Do not sign for it. Don’t let your neighbor sign for it. Don’t even allow Satan to leave it on your front porch! Since I’m apparently closing with a musical theme here, the words of that 1962 Elvis Presley song come to mind, “Return to sender…address unknown!”

You may think you’re fooling everyone by nap-sacking your issues and trying to inconspicuously tote them around, but like the little child who covers her eyes thinking no one can see her; someone sees. That someone is Jesus and He’s given us all an invitation today, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28 – 30)

My 2017 One Hundred Book Challenge – UPDATE

Reading-booksI’ve been asked by many of my friends about my progress toward 100 Books for 2017 and I’ve finally compiled a list compliments of an awesome site I’ve been using to track my challenge called Goodreads. Feel free to friend me on there for an up-to-date list of my current and past reads.

I’m not sure how this will format to my website, but the important thing is I’m ahead of schedule (57 to date) by only a couple of books thanks in part to some shorter ones I’m sure. As you’ll be able to see some of my favorite subjects are prayer, leadership, communication, ministry, and self-help.goodreads

I started out thinking I could write reviews of each of these books but between all of the reading, sermon prep, a full-time job, and the many hats I wear as a leader, it’s just not practical at this time. Suffice it to say however, I’ve gained a ton of wisdom and implemented, not all of this, but a great deal into my life and have found this journey so far very challenging, but extremely rewarding as well.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement, and for the recommendations. – Rodger

Title Author Date
Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture Miller, Mark * 12-Jul-17
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It McGonigal, Kelly * 12-Jul-17
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Gladwell, Malcolm 2-Jul-17
The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within McManus, Erwin Raphael 1-Jul-17
Moving Mountains: How You, God, and Prayer Can Change Things for Good Eldredge, John 27-Jun-17
Leaders Eat Last Sinek, Simon * 23-Jun-17
Ego Is the Enemy Holiday, Ryan * 21-Jun-17
Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment Chapman, Gary 19-Jun-17
How Good is Good Enough? Stanley, Andy 16-Jun-17
Good or God?: Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough Bevere, John 13-Jun-17
Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success Vaden, Rory 29-May-17
Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward Cloud, Henry * 19-May-17
Becoming a Contagious Christian Hybels, Bill 11-May-17
The Principle of Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be Stanley, Andy 2-May-17
Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be Batterson, Mark 27-Apr-17
The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat the Small Stuff Andrews, Andy * 26-Apr-17
A Tale of Three Kings Edwards, Gene * 24-Apr-17
The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist Groeschel, Craig 21-Apr-17
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Gladwell, Malcolm 20-Apr-17
Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others Furtick, Steven 13-Apr-17
The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy Howes, Lewis 11-Apr-17
The Lost Art of Spiritual Disciplines Whitley, Nathan 10-Apr-17
Prayer Bean, Verbal 3-Apr-17
The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play Fiore, Neil A. 2-Apr-17
Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time Vaden, Rory 2-Apr-17
StrengthsFinder 2.0 Rath, Tom * 30-Mar-17
Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life Groeschel, Craig 28-Mar-17
Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul Eldredge, John 21-Mar-17
The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible Batterson, Mark 21-Mar-17
Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World Groeschel, Craig 16-Mar-17
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action Sinek, Simon * 15-Mar-17
Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People Frost, Michael 7-Mar-17
Seven-Mile Miracle: Journey Into the Presence of God Through the Last Words of Jesus Furtick, Steven 7-Mar-17
It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture Turner, Dee Ann 6-Mar-17
Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God Batterson, Mark 3-Mar-17
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God Keller, Timothy J. 25-Feb-17
Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small Batterson, Mark 25-Feb-17
Seven Practices of Effective Ministry Stanley, Andy 19-Feb-17
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars Batterson, Mark 17-Feb-17
Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts Rainer, Thom S. 13-Feb-17
Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms Tebow, Tim 7-Feb-17
With Christ in the School of Prayer Murray, Andrew 6-Feb-17
The Bait Of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense Bevere, John 6-Feb-17
Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision Stanley, Andy 6-Feb-17
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life Miller, John G. 6-Feb-17
The Battle Plan for Prayer: Attacking Life’s Struggles Through Prayer Kendrick, Stephen 6-Feb-17
Influencer : The Power to Change Anything Patterson, Kerry 6-Feb-17
H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle. Lomenick, Brad 6-Feb-17
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance Dungy, Tony 6-Feb-17
Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge Batterson, Mark 6-Feb-17
Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture Stanley, Andy 6-Feb-17
Worth Dying For: A Navy Seal’s Call to a Nation Denver, Rorke * 6-Feb-17
Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend Stanley, Andy 6-Feb-17
If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities Batterson, Mark 20-Jan-17
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever Stanier, Michael Bungay * 13-Jan-17
Praying Hyde Carre, E.G. 2-Jan-17

Value of a Soul

glowing treasure chestIn my morning devotions I visit a “vision board” my crafty and creative wife made for me for our 2017 vision of reaching 100 souls. On this very creative board, Shannon cut and pasted (the old fashioned way) pictures of 100 random people from magazines to provide me with a visual of what 100 souls would look like, and to help add faith and substance to our prayer life. As I approached the board this morning the weight of what I saw on this vision board impacted me so profoundly that it was the catalyst for this post.

As I looked at the vision board this morning, I was moved upon. I believe by the Holy Ghost, that these are more than just flesh and blood people, these are souls. We can tend to use that term “souls” loosely, but it has a profoundly powerful impact if allow the weight of what’s at stake to sink in.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The 17th Century Puritan Preacher, Thomas Watson said of this verse, “Every man carries a treasure about with him—a divine soul. And that this jewel should not be undervalued, our Savior here sets a price upon it. He lays the soul in balance with the whole world and, being put in the scales—the soul weighs heaviest.”

Some would argue the soul is of inestimable value, I would say that argument is flawed to some degree. The soul does have an estimable value and Jesus paid that price with His Blood. The God of Heaven robed Himself in flesh and suffered unthinkable pain and torture to ransom our sin-sick souls. And, because He paid that price, we have promise of eternal life, as do all those who are washed in that Blood through baptism in His Name, and filled with His Holy Spirit.

So, before you’re too quick to lash out at that person in the parking lot for “stealing” your parking spot, or sarcastically dismiss the tirade of a disgruntled clerk, remember they’re more than just a person, beneath that thin veneer of flesh is a soul that will spend somewhere in eternity. You could be the only one standing between their decision to live for God, or allow Satan to rule the day. Have compassion on them. Be an agent for healing rather than conflict. When you handle something of value, are you careless with it? Do you toss it around, mistreat it, or abuse it? Of course not! Souls are a treasure of great price.

Jesus views our soul as a treasure, as does the devil. The difference is, Jesus was willing to pay the price for that treasure. In his Gospel, John records the words of Christ in chapter 10, verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Praise be to God that He thought we were worth saving and redeeming. So much so, He left the splendor of Heaven to prove there’s more to us all than meets the eye – we have a soul. Remember, people matter deeply to God as does their soul, and they should matter deeply to us as well.

A Thief Amongst Us

Point Guardz: Turning Point’s New Men’s Group was created to enlist, enrich, and encourage men to follow after Christ as 2 Timothy 2:3 states, Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Here is our Point Guardz Devotional for Monday, June 5, 2017

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

This passage brings to mind a couple of questions:

1) What “thief” are you allowing to rob you of your joy, your peace, your contentment, and enjoyment of your family and the abundant blessings God has endeavored to shower down upon you?

2) What steps will you take to “guard” and protect your families from those thieves?

As fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and mentors, our role is to be examples yes, but also to protect with integrity the sacred trust of our family and friends by ensuring NOTHING comes between them and abundant life promised to us in Christ, both now, and in the life to come.

It’s important to note here too that this abundant life mentioned here by Christ is only available through Him. No amount of money, success, or material things will even come close to the abundant life Christ affords us.

Let your prayer today be that God gives you courage, strength, and Holy Ghost boldness to fend off the enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And, also pray God open your eyes to remain vigilant and aware of these vicious attacks be they mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical. The abundant life promised by Christ is free, but not cheap. It cost Him His Life.

May we Point Guardz be the protectors and defenders of this precious Gift of Abundant Life.

Touching God


We fixate on the idea that we want God to touch us, but when is the last time you touched God?

We think we touch God with praise and worship, and we most certainly do, but that’s a small portion of what touches God, the most powerful connection God has with His people is when we’re facing our infirmities, our weaknesses, our struggles, and our pain!

Hebrews 4:15 – 16, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Rather than enjoy the closeness to God during these seemingly shameful moments, we recoil, and run in shame feeling as though God cannot connect to us during that time.

News Flash – Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

In another translation it replaces “contrite spirit” for “crushed spirit.” Have you ever felt crushed? The Lord has His Divine sights set on you when you’re crushed more than ever. He wants to come to your rescue. He’s touched by the feeling of your infirmity, your trial, your test, and your struggle.

It’s when we’re experiencing these moments of pain and isolation that we can boldly go to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace in the time of need!

God is touched by our pain, our weakness, our troubles, and in turn God lovingly touches us back to heal us of our pain.

A Deep Dark Place

We’re in a deep dark place in life when we can trample under foot the truths, the values, and the love we were raised with. Whether out of defiance, or desperation, we sink to a place of becoming someone we’re not. We no longer recognize that man or woman in the mirror. We lash out in anger because of our own inner unresolved pain. We isolate ourselves from those that love us, and believe in us, and close doors it took years to open, and open doors it will take years to close.

Word to the wise: Don’t wait until it’s gotten to the point you’re so caught up in your downward spiral, that your children will be caught up in a cyclone of pain and despair. It won’t be the same as yours; it will be far worse. It will have built on the negative energy of your despair, and intensified to a hellish fury in the precious lives of your sons and daughters. We may have sown the wind, but our children will reap the whirlwind.

I plead with you to end the vicious cycle. Your Savior died to spare you from the cyclone of sin and spiritual death. Get the help you need. Spare the next generation of having to contend with the ill effects of your pain compounded with their own.

Too Frozen to be Chosen

What a scripture: Psalm 65:4, Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

If you feel that strong compulsion and are drawn in by God’s Spirit to intercede and pray, this scripture says you’re blessed. God chooses and causes us to approach Him. This is a great truth.

“Many are called” Jesus said, “but few are chosen.” If you’re chosen, do not hesitate to answer His call. I believe many have been called, but so few have qualified themselves to be chosen because they have not answered that call. They’re too frozen to be chosen!

The Fear Factor

What keeps us frozen? More often than not, fear keeps us frozen from being chosen. Like a proverbial “deer in the headlights” we’re paralyzed by fear. But what kind of fear? For some it’s rejection. They fear that when they launch out, they’ll get rejected by their peers, by the popular crowd, or even the world. Jesus said, “if you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you.”

The Great Unknown

Another fear is the unknown. We have no idea sometimes what to expect. When we’re given a vision, or receive a call on our lives, that may be all we know. God doesn’t very often provide us with in depth details of our calling. More often than not, this is a walk by faith and not by sight. If you’re waiting until you have all the answers, you’ll remain frozen by that fear and never become the difference maker God called you to become.

Going All IN

There are many forms of fear, and this post by no means will cover them all, but the last one I want to expose is the fear of commitment. We think this only exists when it comes to personal relationships, but we fear this spiritually as well. A calling on our lives takes sacrifice. It will require a death to self, and a call to become more like Christ and less like the world; a call to go ALL IN!

John the Baptist described it this way; He (Christ) must increase, and I must decrease. Powerful words from a man who knew all to well what it meant to step aside and let Jesus have his ministry. Literally, some of John’s disciples left him and followed after Christ. OUCH!  John knew this wasn’t about his kingdom, but about the Kingdom of God. In fact, his favorite sermon was called, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!”

In Closing

Of course there are a variety of other factors that may have you frozen; a comfortable life, a cozy career, a love for worldly pleasures, you’re too busy with your own agenda, or the opposite, you’re just too lazy.

Listen, we have work to do and time is short! If God has in fact called you, take that next step and avail yourself to become chosen. And, when you’ve been chosen to approach His Throne! GO BOLDLY! – RDM