Political Joke Of The Day

imgres 2Maybe a serious post on the election later. In the meantime, I had a great guy walk up to me at Church yesterday, and ask me a question. It went like this;

Great Guy – My sister told me that it is in the Bible that if I vote for a Democrat I will go to hell. Is it in there?

My Totally Awesome Off The Cuff Witty Response – I’m pretty sure it’s not in the Bible (ok, I’m totally sure). I think that is actually in the Book of Mormon.

Go Vote!

Paul

Begin With Prayer

We begin with prayer. Before we do anything else. Before we make a plan. Before we make a move. Before we stretch out a hand to someone in need. Before anything makes sense. Before anything is worked out. Begin with prayer.

It’s in the first moment of waking up. It’s breathing in what God is already doing, and breathing out to join Him there. For some prayer follows a constructive pattern. But prayer is not repeating a list that we want to make God aware of. Prayer is a meeting. It is a gathering with God if only for a moment. One moment intersecting with the power of God is more powerful than 10,000 moments accomplished with our own effort.

If you move forward without prayer, you either a) Don’t believe in it, or b) you would rather just do it yourself. I’m sure that for most they don’t even realize it. Many of us need to be unraveled. We need to let the scales fall off, or scrub away the old callus’ so that the stale and old can be made new again.

Before building up. Before tearing down. Before renewal. Before new life. Begin with prayer.

Paul

 

Dare We Believe

A couple of weeks ago I was reading in ‘My Utmost For His Highest’. It is a common practice for me to get a nugget or two out of these devotionals. I feel like Chambers general train of thought is over my head, but even I can pull out a line or two. At the end of a particular devotional writing Chambers penned these words,

“Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He says He will be?”

It’s impossible to put the whole of scripture or the character and nature of God into words. There are so many promises to claim, but more than anything else it is the attributes of God that cause me to long for Him most.

Faithful and True. A Rock. A Fortress. A Refuge. An ever present Help in a time of trouble. Through the resurrection of Jesus not only can we claim His character, we can reflect it.

I pray you find God to be exactly what you need today, and that you might be that for others.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

Same Old

So I’m sitting in a Doctor’s office waiting room while my wife has some surgery done. We have had this day circled on the calendar. We knew it was coming. We don’t do this every day. To us, today is a big deal.

A couple of minutes ago a male nurse came in. Let’s call him Gaylord just for fun! He walked into the room and the female nurse at the desk very mechanically slid some papers under his pen. He signed and slid them back and signed some more. She gave him just a glance and asked a question, “How’s it going today?” Based on the title of this post, you can guess the answer, “Same old, same old”. She actually echoed his response. That was the extent of their exchange.

There’s a little something inside of me that wants to go over and bring something to their attention. For us, today is different. You people are taking care of my wife! For Gaylord, today is the same old thing.

I experienced the same thing buying paint over the weekend. We had saved some money in advance for a home project. My wife was excited to change the colors on the wall. We have talked about colors for weeks. She has looked through magazines, we’ve had samples on the wall and considered morning light, artificial light, and evening light. For us walking into the paint store marked a small milestone. To the young guy at the counter, we are just two people a little too excited about a shade of beige.

I have worked at the same church for over 750 Sundays. I love this place. I believe in the vision and the work that is being done. And every week since we started, without fail, we have had guests. I have no idea what their circumstances might be. Some come with deep hurts, and are looking for comfort. Many have no church affiliation and haven’t been since they were kids. Very few just pull in. Most have made a plan to come before they get here. Their particular day is a big deal. And I believe they might hear a message that could change their family in an incredible way.

We have to guard against ‘Same old, same old’. Today is different for somebody, and we get the chance to be right there in the middle of someone’s unique experience. We have to give our very best because today could bring about something brand new.

Everyone belongs,

Paul

The Dream Team Argument

Being a sports junkie and a Laker fan since I was a kid the current argument comparing the 1992 Dream Team and the 2012 Dream Team has been fun. I think Kobe Bryant started it, and he is the only one who could have. When you have 5 or 6 rings, you can make an argument. When you have one or less, you don’t have a leg to stand on. Kobe, Lebron, and Durant vs. Jordan, Magic, and Bird would be amazing to watch, but obviously, it can’t happen.

In 1992 when the original Dream Team was formed there were similar arguments. Could Jordan, Magic, and Bird handle Chamberlain, Russell, and Robertson? In my opinion you can’t leave Pistol Pete out of this discussion. The point is, it would be amazing to watch, but obviously, it can’t happen.

Today’s NBA is different than in 1992. It wouldn’t be without standing on the shoulders of the people who went before them. The same could be said of the ’92 team. It’s amazing how often this kind of argument comes up. A lot of churches and organizations still operate like it’s 1992, and a few like it’s still 1962; that’s unfortunate. The point is every one of us can build a world-class Dream Team if we are focused on our own culture and context right where we are right now. When you compare yourself to the organization across town, or the one that grew so fast all those years ago, you may end up with a great argument, but not necessarily with compelling results.

Great teams find a way to play together with unity.
Great teams are made up of people who know their clearly defined roles and do them to the best of their ability.
Great teams know who their ‘go-to’ player is when it’s clutch time. If you have more than one player you can go to in the clutch, you have a Dream Team.
Other teams can stand on the shoulders of other great (and humble) teams. Eventually, they will transform the game, and make it their own.

Comparisons lead to nightmares. Only when we focus on our own teams can we find ourselves truly operating in a dream scenario.

By the way, I’ll take an all-time, Laker All-Star team versus all y’all!

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

The Gossip Driven Church

I’m going to admit up front that I have been guilty of this at times in my life. I have to keep myself in check in this area, so I will share it with you. Even if you don’t attend church anywhere you have probably watched people who go to church engage in this type of behavior. Sorry about that. We are not painting a very good picture for you.

Does this scenario ring any bells? You got up on Sunday morning, put on your ‘Sunday best’ (whatever that may be), listen to the music and the teaching, and then head to lunch. Sunday lunch is normally tied or slightly ahead of Friday night for the busiest time of the week to get a meal out. This is the dominant way most churches impact their local economy. (GEEZ! Sarcasm is flowing today!) Then the conversation begins. You know the one I’m talking about. It typically begins by rating the music; “Wow, that was really good today!” or “I don’t really like that song very much.” or “Why is that person on the stage?, Why did they do that with the lights? That was too loud! That was too quiet! Why didn’t they do my favorite song? Why don’t they do a hymn? Why do they bother doing a hymn? I sure like it better when so and so is up there.”

Then we move on to the communicator; “He/She just didn’t do it for me today. I feel like I’ve heard him/her talk about that before.” or “Man that one was a home run! That was his/her best ever!” We rate leaders, experience, how we are treated, and how we feel about how the services went.

I’m NOT talking about guest, or people who are trying church for the first time. I’m not talking about leaders challenging the process. I’m talking about Christ-followers! It doesn’t just happen at lunch on Sunday. It’s when Christ followers head out to the neighborhood pool, or out to a business lunch, or with other friends, at the movies, at the park, wherever. It is people who name the name of Jesus in comparison driven, critically driven, gossip driven conversation about their local church.

I’m just talking about church people in general. I’m not thinking of anyone in the church I serve in. Most everyone at our church is too polite to do this in my presence. I just hear it happening all the time. Normally, when I hear people being critical of their church, I’ll innocently act like I didn’t hear what they were talking about (but I heard ‘church’), ask them where they attend, and tell them how awesome a person one of their leaders are.

The sad part is that this is what the community knows to be true of people who attend church. You might as well have gone to the movies and rated it on Flixster. I’m going to add that to future ideas (along with my Christian TMZ website); we should have an app to rate your church service. Would you use offering buckets, Bibles, or microphones as an icon to rate your experience? Might depend on your denomination! It’s a joke!

Here is a Sunday lunch conversation you hear far too rarely. “How am I going to apply the truth of that teaching to my life?” “You know, the truth of that song just wrecked me. How can I live that out?” “You know something the Pastor said makes me want to study that further.” “There are some things I have to rethink based on what I heard today.” “I’ve got to share what I am learning with my friend who needs this.”

Those comments happen, but for the most part they are not the reputation of Christians in the local community. The culture of gossip and criticism based on preference and feeling is robbing the local church of its potential, robbing people of getting serious about being more devoted disciples, and makes a relationship with Jesus look like so many other options in pop-culture.

It’s time to change the conversation, our behavior, and our reputation.

Psalm 19:14,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

Finding Your Triangle

For many people its easy to put the focus on making themselves really busy to try and expand influence or feel like they are adding value. They jump from thing to thing without any rhyme or reason hoping to make a difference. You gotta love the heart and sincerity  of these folks, but there’s a better way to go.

Long before Marcus Buckingham wrote about finding your strengths and even before the Apostle Paul wrote about spiritual gifts Jesus kept things simple and focused on one particular area. A majority of Jesus activity and ministry was done in a simple 7 square mile triangle (can you say square mile when referring to a triangle?) on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee. Three little towns get the majority of his attention and teaching. They are where he called out to his disciples, found other followers like Mary Magdala,  and where he did seemingly more miracles than we have recorded.

Standing on the hill above Capernaum it dominated my thoughts to consider how small and insignificant this place is to the majority of the world. Each of these town had their own role and place and value. But because Jesus invested so deeply into that community it became a launching pad from which the whole world would be transformed.

It’s easy to think you are not doing enough, or that your small slice of the pie doesn’t really matter that much. But if you invest deeply into your little corner of the world there is no telling what a difference you might make or how many lives you might touch.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

Keep Pressing Play

One of the things that become pretty obvious when you look at me is that you can tell I have at least watched a full episode of P90x. It may not be obvious whether or not I have actually participated in this deal a few times, but something inside of you is bound to whisper, “I’ll bet he’s watched one.”

Just to remove the awkwardness and intimidation I just want to confirm I have watched P90x. I love listening to the trainer, Tony Horton, give advice to help keep the workout going. One of the things that has really taken hold is his phrase, ‘Keep Pressing Play’. I guess a lot of people, while doing a P90x workout, decide to hit the pause button at different points in their workout. I don’t know any of these people personally. Tony Horton doesn’t condemn people. He doesn’t beat them up. He just gives the encouragement to ‘Keep Pressing Play’.
Strange though it may seem that phrase causes me to think of other areas where people might need to keep pressing play. For instance, right now we are in a series on prayer at West Ridge Church. A lot of people might feel guilty because they haven’t prayed in a while. At some point they hit the pause button on their prayer life and feel like they can’t get started again.
Guilt can create fear and prevent us from getting started again. Guilt holds us back and stops us from making progress. It stops us from asking for forgiveness and can prevent relationships from being restored. Stress and fatigue take us out and we can’t figure out how to get started again. Being worried about the judgments and thoughts of others can paralyze someone.
It takes a great mixture of humility and courage to hit that play button again. If you ever hope to see meaningful change, keep pressing play. If an area is worth growing in or a relationship is worth working on you have to keep pressing play.
No matter what area you feel stalled out in today, or how many times you have hit the pause button, just keep pressing play!
Everyone Belongs,
Paul

Chick-Fil-A Leadercast

 I am thrilled to announce that we are bringing one of the best Leadership events in the country to West Ridge Church. We will be a host site for Chick-Fil-A Leadercast, and we would love to have you join us.

This one day leadership event full of challenge, inspiration and encouragement is being made available via simulcast on Friday, May 4th. You can go here to sign up!

Chick-Fil-A not only has a vision to deliver great food in excellent environments, but also to help enrich and build the communities where their restaurants are located. One of the ways they do that is by investing in leaders through this event.

So here’s the deal! THIS IS IMPORTANT! This event is sold out to attend live. The only way you can attend is through this simulcast event. Thanks to Chick-Fil-A and their partners Giant Impact we can make this event available for around a 1/4th of the cost of attending live. You will hear talks from Marcus Buckingham, Patrick Lencioni, Urban Meyer, John Maxwell, Soledad O’Brien, Andy Stanley, and Tim ‘the Jet’ Tebow! This is going to be a great day! You can go here to sign up!

Just a little bonus…all of the proceeds from the attendance at West Ridge Church will go to Global Missions.

I hope you, your friends, your small group, your co-workers, and more will join us for this incredible and unique event!

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

How Are You Doing?

I have a friend and mentor that sends me a text every once in a while with this simple question, ‘How Are You Doing?’

I’m sure you get asked this question a lot. It’s a quick greeting on the phone, or a ‘Hi, how are ya?’ in the hallway at school or in the office. Most of the time you know it’s just a greeting. Many times people don’t really want an answer, and that’s ok.

Sometimes you answer this question based on your mood, or current circumstances, or based on your recent conversations. How do you answer the question when you know the person who is asking actually wants an answer? How do you answer the question in a way that communicates more than just one moment?

For me I’ve tried to start hearing a different question when I am asked this. The question is ‘How are you doing?’, I’m hearing, “Are you following Jesus today?”

  • Following Jesus trumps how I am feeling at any given moment. It’s not dependent on my emotions.
  • Following Jesus means I can trust the motivations of my heart when I am making decisions.
  • Following Jesus means I am daily becoming God’s will, not just seeking God’s will. (There’s an Oswald Chambers quote worked into that one)
  • Following Jesus means I am learning to love others, even those that don’t love me.
  • Following Jesus means I am putting the desires and needs of my spouse, my kids, my family and friends, ahead of my own.
  • Following Jesus means I am willing to endure ‘light and momentary trials’ without reacting negatively.
  • Following Jesus means this day does not belong to me, it belongs to Him, and He is welcome to interrupt me at any time.

So, how are you doing today?  What does following Jesus mean to you?

Everyone Belongs,

Paul