Lessons Learned from Herman Cain

We all have lessons to learn from Herman Cain…

     Not too long ago, Herman Cain was a political unknown to many. I was only familiar with him through his many radio appearances on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” show on AM radio. Recently, he gained a tremendous amount of political steam in his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination.

     Even more recently, “The Hermanator” became “Hermanated”, when he announced amid scandalous charges that he’d be suspending his run for the Presidency. Theologian Albert Mohler made some very important observations regarding Cain’s political/personal foibles in his week-daily podcast “The Briefing”.

     The day after Mohler’s post, Churchleaders.com published a post, which we posted on our Facebook fan page, called “7 Ways to Affair-Proof Your Ministry“. Oh, and by the way – even if
you’re not in full time vocational ministry, you still have a ministry… all around you. So, read on. My comments were as follows:

“Interesting, God has convicted us to put virtually all of these into practice for years now. Are there any that you would add to this through experience or as a result of wisdom passed on to you?”

     In reply, one reader said – “keep an eye even on same-sex relationships” because of the current trend in the media leaning toward normalizing homosexuality. Fair cop. Another reader reminded us of one practice we’ve followed very closely – when emailing a member of the opposite sex, either cc or bcc your spouse (and/or theirs). Food for thought, thought for practice. I hope their post helps you out. But, back to the question – are there any practices you would add to these?

     We are not here to present ourselves as some model of “above it all” morality, rather as sinners saved by the grace of God, prone to temptation, and living daily in the victory over sin and death not that we have won, rather that Christ won for us. Good grief, without Christ, we’re prone to do anything, right? So, let’s learn not only from what was done wrong, but what was not done well, here, in the humility that it could have been any of us at this level of “success”, power, and public exposure. Let us not allow ourselves to give in to the sway of the world, which the bible tells us, is clearly run by the enemy of God, the father of all lies, and the lion who roams about seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.

     Herman Cain made some very unwise moves here. Today, we celebrate the wisdom that God has passed on to us through leaders like Andy Stanley, Voddie Baucham, Tommy Nelson, Jentezen Franklin, Casey Sanders, and others – Do whatever you must do to keep yourself out of harm’s way and do not even allow a hint of sexual immorality. We live in a broken world. We must guard ourselves from temptation. A sexual affair is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this kind of matter, because all sexual affairs began as emotional affairs. The best way to avoid a sexual affair is to STAY CLEAR of an emotional affair. And, in the hyper sexualized climate we live in, the best defense is a good offense.

     Below, I am posting a link to Mohler’s blog with two hopes:

  1. You will actually take the time to read it in its entirety and share it with people around you, especially your children and those you disciple in the marketplace, in church, etc.
  2. You will consider the steps that ought to be taken in ones’ life to ensure you are “blameless” and that any such attack on your character as a Christian man (or woman) will immediately bounce off not because you “said so”, rather because those around you can attest to the amount of space you intentionally put in your life between temptation and you (a.k.a. “margin”).

Would You Rather?

     Would you rather give your time, energy, and financial support to an organization that gets children out of sex trafficking or an organization that prevents them from being sold into slavery in the first place?
If you heard Andy Stanley’s recent message “An Ounce of Prevention“, you’d know that it’s a trick question – the answer is both, isn’t it?

     For years, we’ve been talking to people about the value of discipleship and I’ve personally struggled with the question: “how do we show people the measurable results of discipleship?” As of today, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. Why? Because “crisis averted” or “divorce prevented” is immeasurable. From time to time, God has given us measurable items – dollars worth of food distributed to at risk families, leaders trained for DivorceCare, participants enrolled in events – but the primary work we do in one on one discipleship is something I’ve wasted weeks of time trying to measure when it cannot be measured.

     I highly recommend listening to this message as soon as you can, but from a discipleship standpoint, let me give you a testimonial: the wisdom, counsel, and biblical truth given to me from my mentors during the darkest times of our marriage, our ministry, our family crises has prevented metldowns, explosions, and generational dysfunction that would otherwise have left a terrible mark on our children and their children yet to come.

Who am I to think I could measure that and report 

it back to you with a neat, little bow on top?

     Two men got together every week to listen to what God is doing in each others’ lives, point out scripture that deconstructs the lies they believed (about their wives, their boss, their co-worker, their kids, their God, their addictions). Over the course of years their faith was built up, maturity hastened, and perhaps – just perhaps – their marriage was saved from a divorce, an affair, a financial crisis, a lifelong wedge of misunderstanding and hard heartedness. How does one measure that?!

     Two women got together over coffee to talk about one’s divorce, the lies and accusations satan reinforced in their self concept, shared truth from God’s word, prayed for each other, and that divorcee found second marriage grace with her new husband, learned step by grueling step how to “blend” families with her new son in law as God healed old hurts, exposed her to new ones, and proved Himself worthy as her protector, healer, and deliverer. Today, her two sons know that while their biological parents are no longer together, their future is secure because God is the head of their new household and Mommy & Daddy now bring all of their baggage to the cross recreationally.

How do you 

     A husband and wife on the verge of divorce sought counsel and help outside of Seasons of Life, but know the value of what this kind of “personal pastoring” had on their marriage, so they joined us in support at $50 a month. They get it. Many of you do, too. You knew it was coming, right? End of year giving appeal? But, this is precisely the point that I, now with Andy’s help, have been trying to articulate for years now. Prevention giving versus intervention giving.

    So, if you’re a supporter of Seasons of Life, this article is for you, too. You’ve understood what Stanley tells us is the difference between “intervention giving” and “prevention giving”. Seasons of Life was born out of the overflow of DivorceCare – clearly an “intervention” environment. But, the Lord, who is the ultimate Interventionist, has used many of you at $20, $50, to $400 a month to “keep the lights on” for others who don’t, and hopefully never will, need intervention.

     Bottom line – prevention giving is neither emotional nor measurable, but it’s necessary and far superior to intervention giving. Thank you. If you’ve responded to this call through giving or prayer, we’re so very grateful. I

Lean In, Lean Out

     We have this really great, point-and-shoot camera that I got for Christmas a few years ago. Some of you may have already tuned out, because you believe “great, point-and-shoot camera” is an oxymoron. I understand. Work with me here. It’s taken hundreds of photos of our four kids, especially Presleigh (3) and the twins (20 mos). But, lately, the oxymorons are right. It’s not that great. It’s taken its share of hard knocks and now 9 out of 10 shots it takes come out just sliiiiightly… blurry. It leans toward blurry.

     Question: which way do you lean?

     I have this problem – an idolatry problem, really – that the Holy Spirit (often as channeled through my “thank-God-for-your-prophetic-discernment” wife) is working on abolishing from my life. The idol I’ve often come to worship is progress. If you’ve seen our one man show “That Day”, you can relate to a guy who looks back on his life and realizes if time were a bucket of paint, his wife and kids would be really pale and his job, wellllll painted.

     I lean toward progress. Today, I’m grateful for that leaning, as I read the opening line of Proverbs, chapter 12. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Some translate the word “ba’ar” as “stupid”, others as “brutish”. Hey, I’m not sure which one is worse, but I don’t want to be either. How about you?

reproof: rebuke, correction, 
punishment, chastisement”

     I’m grateful that I lean toward progress, because there’s something about me that doesn’t want to be stupid. Really, there’s something about me that wants to lean toward improvement and constant innovation. Can you relate? The hard part about this is here: “reproof” is defined as rebuke, correction, punishment, chastisement” – none of which is a very comfortable, fluffy, cuddly word, either. I’d rather lean out and away from punishment or chastisement, if I had my way in the natural. But, I’m more comfortable with those prickly words than I am with “stupid/brutish”. 

     A few months ago, we went through some of the greatest trials we’ve ever experienced as believers in Christ, as a ministry, as a family. As we walked through it, Cristine remarked how grateful she was for the presence of one particular guy in my life who prayed with us through it. He reminded me of the first lines of the book of James and summarized the “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” part as follows:
“Trials are necessary.”   

     Often, leaning in to one thing means leaning out of another, by necessity or even default. However, when it comes to trials, leaning into trial seems the most honest way of leaning into Christ. The questions that remains are – are we willing to pay the price to “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”? Are we willing to love discipline in order to obtain the knowledge wrapped in its precious core? Are we willing to love reproof in order to grow beyond stupid? What are some of the possible future benefits of this trial (if not at a minimum, heavenly rewards for perseverance), that make the current discomfort of the trial worthwhile?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3.5)”

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And, let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4 NASB)”

    PRAY: “Lord, grow my appetite for discipline and reproof so that I may become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Help me to lean into You and appreciate You in the midst of pain, discomfort, and/or disease.”   

I’m Not Here to be an “I Told You So”

     Perhaps one of the most difficult lessons in this life is learning that people are going to do what they want to do despite godly counsel. Then again, I’m a father of four, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later, right? This month, I want to focus in on the importance of discipleship before it’s required and the implications it has on the turn of season from single to married. Bottom line(s), like my pilot friends will tell you “it’s better to be on the ground (single) wishing you were in the air (married) than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground”; and discipleship matters, especially when obedience is the result.

Watch Out for the Brick!!!
     My wife has such an interesting mix of spiritual gifts – a heart for pastoring, but a gift for exhorting. Not only is she street smart, but she’d got a direct line to the Father, who sometimes gives her inside information. Some might call it “word of knowledge”. Some would call it “prophetic”. I sometimes have to call it “spooky”. It’s especially spooky when she’s dead right about it.

     This week, I got to catch up with a guy that asked us for wisdom and counsel in a relationship he was pursuing. I was kind yet firm. I offered very little opinion and much scripture. Cristine… When she spoke, I thought I saw a brick come out of her mouth and hit the guy in the head. It wasn’t entirely gentle. Blunt, clear, and true, but ouch. I could see the guy squirm in his seat. I could also see, by the look on his face that my wife was right about what she told him.

Fast Forward

     Months went by and here I am sitting down with him again – heartbroken. What Cristine had shared with him was utterly accurate and painfully real. He and his wife were now struggling through deal-breaker after deal-breaker in their marriage and it looked like this could have been prevented if he’d taken the advice my brick-throwing bride had given him months earlier. This isn’t an article about how we’re so great and others need to bow down to our massive Hans & Franz sized biblical biceps. It’s about how great this week’s conversation went.

     See, this guy had married a wounded woman. I personally believe that when it comes to woundedness, “the tide goes out of the harbor as soon as you say ‘I do’.” Meaning that if you have junk in your harbor from past shipwrecks, it will become most visible after the altar, not before. Well, it’s low tide and their harbor is loaded with flotsam and jetsam: hurts, pains, fears, wrongs, unspoken expectations, minimized weaknesses… Since the wedding, wounds in her life had begun to consume her, him, and their marriage. Yet “Tom” was so steadfast. I absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, love the attitude of Christ this guy was wearing – he knew in the middle of fights, blow-ups, and tit-for-tat’s that he could not leave this woman even if she asked him to. This guy had studied the scripture and taken the time to think out loud with other guys in his life.

The Point?

   The point of the story is to update you on some of the great things God is doing in the lives of men and women willing to “seek [Him] with all of [their] heart(s) (Jer. 29.13)”. It’s also to provoke you to action.

Action Items:
1. Will you pray for “Tom” and his marriage? You don’t need to know his real name, God will get who you’re praying for, because He’s… well… omniscient.

2. Pass this article on to a friend of yours who’s in a great unmarried relationship. Pass it on to another friend who’s in a terrible unmarried relationship. Then, purposely don’t tell each friend which one you think they are.

3. If you’re engaged or in a serious relationship, contact your local church about their ministry to the engaged – don’t walk through the engagement process on your own – we didn’t and we’re thoroughly grateful for it. Don’t consider meeting with other couples who have been married for many years – do it. We did that, and still meet with them from time to time. It has been a vital part of our marriage growth curve. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm. (Prov. 13.20)”