Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 The New Year

                “James... earn this. Earn it.”

                In the movie Saving Private Ryan,” as Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) is about to die and these are the words that he speaks to Pvt. James Ryan.  Miller and his special squad have wandered all over Europe looking for Ryan so that they could get him out of the war.  Miller is the last member of that squad and is now dying as they are being rescued and Ryan is being saved.

                “James... earn this. Earn it.”

                I usually think about this sometime before the New Year.  As many of us are thinking of resolutions and about how to better ourselves over the next year, how do you decide what your resolutions should be? Are there just one or two things about our life that we need to better or are there hundreds? Do we only choose 1 or 2 because 98 would be too many to work on? I wonder if I have ever kept a resolution to the year’s end. I wonder if my resolutions do any good.  If it is worth keeping for one year isn't it worth keeping for life? 

                I have no illusions about my life.  I know that I cannot earn, or even attempt to be good enough to be worthy of what Jesus did for me. I know that His life was more worthy than all of humanity. I know (even though I don't  always understand it) grace.           

                But this time of year I always ask myself, “Can I do better?” & “How much better can I do?”

                As a minister? As a Christ-follower? As a father? As a husband? As a Friend? As a brother? As a Son? Can I do better as a preacher? Bible class teacher?

                What do you ask yourself? As the calendar changes, don't worry so much about resolutions, but ask some questions.  Evaluate where you are and where you would like to be.  Make a plan, and stick to it. 

               The end of the movie always sticks with me.

 As Ryan approaches the grave of Miller he says this, "My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. And I've tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Really Busy??

Be Consistent.  This is one of the main rules of developing followers if you are going to Blog.  So this is what I am trying to do.  I have been trying to Blog Mondays and Thursdays.  I think I am going to change that to Tuesdays and Thursday.  But here is the reason I didn't blog yesterday.

After last weeks post of the notes from Jud Wilhite's talk at Catalyst Dallas.  You can read it here.  And a lot of prayer.  and a few moments of complete nervousness, and conversations with friends and mentors, and some deep moments of self doubt.  My wife and I have made an offer on a house.  As most of us know there are a lot of things that go with that so depending on how things go we may be home owners again relatively soon. Please pray that we have wisdom.

How do you make large decisions? What do you do to make sure you are being wise and following God's will?  What processes do you have in place?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Catalyst Notes: Jud Wilhite: Staying Grounded in Ministry

     Jud Wilhite’s (Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church, Henderson NV.) talk at Catalyst in Dallas was great.  It probably was a gut check to a number of ministers who are often hoping to move into larger and larger churches during their preaching careers.  Not all do, but there is a pull on many ministers that says that they are not successful unless they are at a larger church.  And so the question begs, “When are you then successful? When you are at the largest church in the world?”  If success depends on how many you are preaching to then you will never feel successful.  Jud Wilhite walked through II Corinthians 5:11-15 with us and reminded us to be present where God has called us to be.

2 Corinthians 5
-----New Living Translation (NLT)-----
11. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
-----New Living Translation (NLT)-----

“God might not call you to a spectacular ministry, but will always call you to a faithful and sincere heart.” (v. 11-12)

Paul lets the Corinthians know that it is more important to have a sincere heart than it is to have a spectacular ministry.  He doesn’t say that spectacular ministries are wrong, just that our focus should be on having a sincere heart.

Jud reminded us that very few ministers will ever be able to work at large congregations.  The facts are simply that most churches are small.  We must measure our success first by having a faithful and sincere heart to God, and to where God has called us to be now.  Jud stated, “At the end of life nobody cares about the ministry scorecard.”

“Stay a little crazy for God” (v. 13)

Paul goes in to say that if what he is doing doesn’t make sense to them it is ok (v. 13).  They are doing things differently so that they can reach people with the message of Christ.

Jud had two great quotes on this point. 
  • Sometimes you have to get down in the mess to help people get back on their feet.
  • Ministry is messy, because sin is messy.

“Compelled by Christ”  (v.14-15)

It doesn’t matter if I appear crazy or if it all makes sense to you.  But what matters is that it is the love of Christ that controls or compels us. We no longer live for ourselves but instead we live and try to love others as Christ loves them. 

Jud reminded us all that no matter the size of our congregation or ministry,
 “Home is where God calls you to be.”

Have you made where you are home?  How do you fight the conflict between being present where you are and wanting to be more successful? Is there a to be content with where we are and have a holy discontent with the way things are? How do you stay focused on a sincere heart when the world screams we need a spectacular ministry/lifestyle/job/income? 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Maxwell's thoughts on life, #4 CatalystDallas

First, if you would like to read more fully what Maxwell meant with his personal definition of success, which I blogged about a few weeks ago, you can find it here on Maxwell’s blog.  He of course does a much better job with it than I did. 

Here is the fourth thought that Maxwell Shared with us at Catalyst. 

Follow the Rule of Five

The a good way to affectively meet your goals is to "Follow the Rule of Five." 
  • Set a Goal
  • Everyday do Five things that will help you accomplish that goal.

Maxwell gave the analogy of chopping down a tree. If you want to chop down a tree, then every day you should go out into the yard pick up the ax and swing it at the tree five times, put down the ax and go on about your day.  If you will do that, and do that every day, soon the question you begin to ask is “When will the tree fall?” and not “Will the tree fall?” 

Maxwell knew that he wanted to be a writer.  So he developed a Rule of Five to make sure that he became and continued to be a writer.  Every day he:
  1.  Reads
  2. Thinks
  3. Files (illustrations, stories, things he could use in writing)
  4. Asks questions of other people
  5. Writes   

Then, Maxwell defined every day for us.  It means EVERYDAY.  Sundays? Yes.  Birthdays? Yes. Christmas? Yes.  Vacations? Yes.

“I don’t do them all day, I do them every day.”

Maxwell said that it took him six years to settle on these five things for his Rule of Five.

Do you have a routine?  How do you start your day? What do you do to make sure you meet your goals?  Are you a “to-do list person”?  What disciplines do you have in place to help you meet your goals? What are you intentional about?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

What to improve -- Maxwell's third thought.

The 3rd “thought on life” that John Maxwell shared with us at Catalyst Dallas:

In abilities, work on your strengths,
In matters of choice, work on your weaknesses.

Although this is becoming a more popular thought in self-improvement, this is counter-intuitive for most of us.  Going through school I was always taught to get better at the things at which I am not good.  Maxwell makes a pretty compelling argument of why that is not necessarily the best option.

In abilities, work on your strengths.
In things that it takes a natural ability to ever be a master, you should work on your strengths.  If you rate yourself a 2 (out of 10) in something, then (unless you are the exception) you will probably never be an 8, 9, or 10.  However, if you are naturally a 5 or 6 at something, then over time, with practice and learning, you can become a 9 or 10. “God will never hold you accountable for a gift you don’t have.”

And of course if I know I am weak in a certain area, I am going to try to add someone to my team that is stronger in that area, to make up for my weaknesses. 

Also, if it is something I am passionate about, my level of ability will not stop me from working on it for my own enjoyment. I am still determined that one day I will play the guitar even though I can’t change chords and strum at the same time. I also enjoy playing recreational racquetball and volleyball, I will probably never be better than a “B” player, but I enjoy these things and they are for my personal fulfillment.

In matters of choice, work on your weaknesses.
In things at which you can choose to be better, work on your weakness.  Maxwell’s examples were Attitude and Discipline.  In both of these areas, with determination and focus you can go from a 1 to a 10.  IF I have a bad attitude or a lack of self-discipline, then over time with learning and practice I can become a 10.  We can choose to put different behaviors into our lives that will help us develop these things and go from bad to Great.

As someone who has wrestled with self-discipline most of my life, I was greatly encouraged by this for one reason: IT IS TRUE.  With help and some coaching I am turning my lack of discipline around.  I have always had just enough discipline to get by, but never enough to excel. As an example I look at my low High School GPA, 2.35 (inflated by several credits of band and other electives that were always A’s).  It was just enough to scrape by and graduate.  With work and help I have become much better and am still improving daily. 

What are your thoughts/reactions to this?  Do you know of an exception? In matters of abilities do you spend more time on your strengths or your weaknesses? Do you have a way of working on your weakness in the matters of choice category?  How many of you have someone who intentionally helps improve your life?