Church

Guaranteed Victory!

I’m an avid sports fan. I watch the sports. I watch the commentary before and after the sporting event. I even listen to the radio station that spends the majority of it’s programming on sports.

One of the most common phrases you hear in the sports world coming from confident, ambitious players is some variation of, “I guarantee a win!” Of course we know that they seem to be wrong most of the time. The ones that actually predict their victory are lionized like Joe Namath.

I was thinking about this concept of “guaranteed”. In our world nothing really seems to be guaranteed. Everything is changing, shifting and adjusting. Our careers, schedules and relationships are seemingly always subject to change. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it just is the state of our society. In other words, it is what it is.

On the flip side, I was reminded of some things that are guaranteed. I think about 1 Corinthians 13 where it says, “These three remain: faith, hope and love.” I think about one of my favorite songs called “Your Love Never Fails”. I think about the scripture in Matthew 24 that says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My word will stand forever.” Guarantees.

The point of all of these ramblings is this: The only real consistency that we are going to find in this life has its origin in our relationship with God. We know that things decay and depreciate. We, at least intellectually, know that people will eventually fail us. Even the things that we have some control over, such as our health, can take a turn for the worse without warning. However, if we keep the main thing the main thing it should certainly help us to have a better shot at a “Guaranteed Victory”.

My Thoughts on the Motion Experience

First, let me start by saying that it was freakin’ awesome to get to hang out with the Motion peeps yesterday. I’m so glad we’re going steady now (that won’t make any sense if you weren’t there yesterday).

I’m absolutely blown away by the passion and commitment of our leaders and volunteers. They understand the virtue of honor and embrace it whole-heartedly. Like I’ve said before, “They make THIS what THIS is.”

It was so encouraging to see so many new faces. We will continue to work diligently to make Motion a place that you can believe in enough to invite your unchurched friends and family. Our vision is simply for people that don’t know Jesus to come to know Him through the church. I heard a quote one time that seems fitting: “We want the Message of Jesus to be comfort to the afflicted and affliction to the comforted.”

One of the Laws of Motion (core values) is generosity. We got to live this out by giving 10% of our offering to an organization called charity:water. You can track our campaign by going to http://mycharitywater.org/Motionchurch

The grand crescendo is this: the best is yet to come. Not even in a metaphorical sense, but literally, we are just getting started. We are already larger in attendance than the average church in America. We’ve got some great things planned, but God has even greater things than we can imagine. It’s appropriate to finish this post with the lyrics from the chorus of the song that is somewhat of our mantra.

“Greater things are yet to come,
Greater things are still to be done
In this city!”

Break The Wrist and Walk Away

Napoleon Dynamite is quite possibly the dumbest movie on the face of the Earth. Which is exactly why I LOVE IT!

There is one particular scene that reminds me of a scenario I was in recently. Since we’re being honest here, I have to tell you that there are some people that just rub me the wrong way. Don’t go getting all sanctified on me, because I know you feel the same way about “that person”. You know what I’m talking about. The “one” who makes your blood pressure go up at the mention of their name or during a chance encounter at Wal-Mart. The one that you would rather punch than pray for…. OK, so that may have been too much but you get the point.

The solution: “Break the wrist and walk away.” Now while we would possibly like for that to read “break their wrist”, that’s not exactly what is going on here. You know what I’ve learned about harboring animosity and unforgiveness? You’re the one that loses. The other person may never even entertain the thought that you get so worked up about their issues. So, break the wrist and walk away.

Separate yourself mentally from that persons failures, shortcomings, stupidity, or whatever it may be. I heard a quote one time that seems applicable, “Don’t let people rent space in your head.” In other words, put a “No Vacancy” sign out front. Don’t give them the emotional, mental and spiritual energy that they may even deserve. Break the wrist and walk away.

Romans 12 says that “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” It seems to indicate that there are some people that it just isn’t possible for you to be at peace with relationally. So to keep peace perhaps you need to steer clear of them. Break the wrist and walk away.

That is all.

I attached a link to the video as a refresher just in case you haven’t seen it in a while.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcw6xBaCaXM&feature=related

Hope Against Hope

 

I found this poem the other day when I was looking up the phrase “hope against hope” in reference to Abraham in Romans 4. I thought it was good so I decided to share it with those who join me in the blog action.

 

Away, dark thoughts, you autumn clouds!
A golden spring is here!
Shall it be thus in sorrow and in lamentation
That my youthful years pass away?

No, through all my tears I still shall laugh,
Sing songs despite my troubles;
Have hope despite all odds,
I want to live! Away, you sorrowful thoughts!

On this poor, indigent ground
I shall sow flowers of flowing colors;
I shall sow flowers even amidst the frost,
And water them with my bitter tears.

And from those burning tears will melt
The frozen crust, so hard and strong,
Perhaps the flowers will bloom and
Bring about for me a joyous spring.

Unto a winding, flinty mountain
Shall I bear my weighty stone,
Yet, even bearing such a crushing weight,
Will I sing a joyful song.

Throughout a lasting night of darkness
Ne’er shall I rest my own eyes,
Always searching for the guiding star,
The bright empress of the dark night skies.

I shall not allow my heart to fall sleep,
Though gloom and misery envelop me,
Despite my certain feelings
That death is beating at my breast.

Death will settle heavily on that breast,
The snow covered by a cruel haze,
But fierce shall beat my little heart,
And maybe, with its ferocity, overcome death.

Yes, I will laugh despite my tears,
I’ll sing out songs amidst my misfortunes;
I’ll have hope despite all odds,
I will live! Away, you sorrowful thoughts!

 

So whatever you’re dealing with, there is always hope!

 

Refocus

As you probably are already aware of, East Texas has been devastated by fires over the last few days. While nothing has really come close enough to our home to consider it a threat, it definitely has caused me think about what is really important.

Seriously, if everything that I own were gone tomorrow how much of it would I really miss or even know was gone? This is one of those things that we know, but sometimes we don’t act like we really know it. We know that all “things” are temporal and lose their value almost immediately after we get it. But we still pursue them. We know that our house and its contents don’t define who we are, yet we spend the majority of our time working to fund them.

The point of this rant is really short, simple and sweet: Let’s make sure that we are devoting the best of ourselves to the people and causes that deserve it. I heard a quote one time that really drives this idea home. “Those that are closest to you deserve the best from you.” Our spouses, kids and friends don’t deserve what is left over from our devotion and commitment to the pursuit of passing pleasures. As far as careers and endeavors are concerned, give your time to what is going to allow you to do the most good and leave the most lasting impact.

I think it’s a good idea to take the extrinsic happenings around us from time to time and let them be a reminder to refocus our attention on what really matters. The best way I can think to explain this is like a car. As nice as your car may be, even if it cost 100k, it will still inevitably need a realignment to keep everything in line. We’re not much different, are we?

Birds of the Same Feather…

You’re probably familiar with the old adage, “Birds of the same feather flock together.”

This axiom has particularly stood out to me as of late as a result of various situations. I know that we know that it is important to have the right people around us. We’ve all heard quotes like, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” But what fascinates me is that in spite of knowing this, people still allow birds with the wrong feathers to have influence in their lives.

I heard a really good analogy that explains this. Pretend you’re on a boat in an ocean. Let’s say you’re clumsy and manage to fall off the boat and cut your leg. Now that you’re in the water, the blood will soon begin to pour from your wound. It won’t be long until you find out what or, more importantly, who is around you. Maybe there are some dolphins. We’ve all have heard the stories of the heroism of dolphins and how they help people in trouble. Conversely, there may be a shark in the water. Of course we know what happens when a shark smells blood.

Although birds and sharks are quite different, we can still learn much about them as a result of adversity. Sharks react violently. Birds get their feathers ruffled. When feathers get ruffled, and they will, inevitably some will fall to the ground.

My suggestion: STOP AND CHECK THE FEATHERS OF THOSE AROUND YOU. 

If the feathers don’t belong to birds that can fly as high as you plan on flying then you need a new flock!

Rather than taking the time to kill birds with stones (or two with one stone), I want to celebrate the birds that are in my life. Specifically, the core team of Motion. These guys give countless hours to serving, giving, meeting and planning the various aspects of the church. They always find a way to overcome disagreements, show honor even when it’s not easy and do what is best for the whole instead of the individual. I’ve never been more excited about a group of people. T.D. Jakes said, “You can tell what God is trying to build by the people He places around you.”

If that holds true, God is building an amazing thing at Motion Church.

What We’re For

As we were developing the Laws of Motion (our core values), I looked at several different churches and pastors that I respect for direction. One day, I came across the Honor Code from Elevation in Charlotte, NC. In that,  I heard about a principle that has challenged me deeply.

WE ARE KNOWN FOR WHAT WE ARE FOR.

Unfortunately, churches are full of drama. That is, of course, because it is made up of broken people trying to figure life out (and some tares… if you don’t know what that is read Matthew 13:24-30). We have plenty of opportunity to tear other people down to make ourselves look better or to justify why we do what we do the way we do it. But, it just isn’t right.

Every time a church leader makes a mistake we are forced to make a difficult choice. Do we jump on the bandwagon and condemn them? Or do we take the high road and focus on the life-giving grace of God?

We all know that bad news travels way faster than good news. We also know that it is easier to talk negatively about situations (that may even deserve it) than to speak life. But isn’t that what grace is? God doesn’t give us what we deserve, and that is really good news!

The simple truth is that when we allow the faults and failures of others to become a part of our conversations and platforms, we lose. We lose the respect of people who are searching for real hope. We lose the luster and appeal that the church should have to people who are sin-filled and in need of a Savior. I would even take it as far to say that we lose the Christlikeness that we are striving for as His people.

The take away is this: We have to choose between death and life. We know that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Our response to negative situations will fall directly under one of these headings. Which one are you a conduit of?

Ambition

I just had a cup of coffee (a grande caramel machiatto to be exact) with two of the most ambitious people I know. The net result of the conversation for me was that the life that we have been given by God is a gift, and how we steward it is an indicator of our appreciation of the gift. 

There isn’t much doubt in my mind that both of these guys are going to be millionaires sometime in the not so distant future. The most fascinating thing about that is not what cars they are going to be able to drive or what houses they are going to live in, but the good that will be accomplished because of their hard work and responsible handling of their God-given abilities.

It is a perfectly clear picture of the church in action. As a pastor, I can’t do what I am called to do if these guys and others like them don’t pursue their dreams. Money is a touchy subject in the context of the church so I’ll tread delicately…. or not. Truth is: it takes money to do ministry. Go all the way back to the Early Church and there is a brief mention of a guy named Erastus who was apparently a convert of the Corinthian church. He was the treasurer of the city and seemingly a generous patron. Even Jesus had a treasurer (a bad one in the end, but a treasurer nonetheless). Obviously there was money involved with the ministry that Jesus was doing.

The point: if you’ve been given the gift and ability to be successful then do it! Churches all over are limited in their resources and bound by a mentality of poverty. How embarrassing it must be to the God of the universe that His people don’t tap into all that He has available to them. This is not a lofty, prosperity concept. It is a truth found in scripture that a worker is worthy of his wages. Our response to the life that we have been given should be to make the most of it, not to sit around and wait for success to fall into our laps.

I think Solomon summed it up best when he said, “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all of your might.”

Platform For Critics

As I’m sure most people are, I hate being criticized. I have the intrinsic quality of desiring to make people happy. I think most of us do, but if we are honest with ourselves then we all know that it is absolutely impossible to please anybody all of the time (much less everybody even some of the time).

I think the trick here is to have room for critics.

There are, however, conditions. I’m not going to let somebody that has been to one of our experiences and heard me speak a grand total of once make an impact on my demeanor with their unmerited snap judgments. Especially when you factor in that it really doesn’t matter near as much what I say when I’m in front of a crowd than how I live when the crowd is not around. It certainly is frustrating that their criticism is founded in 30 minutes of personal preference as opposed to the other 167 1/2 hours in the week. But that’s the world we live in.

I believe that criticism is essential to growth. That’s why the people that are closest to me have free reign in being honest with me about everything. It’s always done tactfully and respectfully. No slights or knocks. Just the truth. The danger is that if you give people this kind of freedom, they are going to utilize it. Which means you are going to be challenged. You are going to be forced to think things through and know why you do what you do. It can be painful and burdensome, but at the end of the day it’s the best way to live.

It is no easy task blocking out the voices that don’t deserve your time and energy. They will, however, lose their influence as you allow the ones that are closest to you get the best from you. It seems to make sense that Jesus modeled relationships to us in concentric circles. Fewer and fewer got closer and closer. I’m sure their is something to be learned here considering our critics pail in comparison to His.

We have to set aside our egos and pride and allow the people that want the best for us to pull the best out of us. It’s that simple. Simply said, difficultly done.

Unlikely Place For Wisdom

What started as a casual conversation with an older gentleman in the locker room at the gym turned into a rather insightful dialogue. 

At first we both griped about the burden of working out, but the tenor and topic shifted quickly without warning to how proud this man in his late 60’s or early 70’s was of the teenagers in his church. He moved quickly and passionately, discrediting the usual complaints of a man his age about the up and coming generation. The loud music. The tattoos. The  style. The crescendo of his spill was, “If we codgers have to get out of the way or wear cotton earplugs, then that’s what we need to do!” 

The result for me was similar. I pray that I always have the heart to do what is best for the church. Not what I prefer. Not what I want. Not even necessarily what I THINK is best, but what IS best! After all, it’s not my church or your church; it’s His church.