Reality. Check.

Treadmill control 20150120

Reality.

I will be honest, I have been slacking in my exercise and fitness plans. Recently, I made some adjustments and have chosen to focus with renewed commitment and energy on returning to a “more fit me”. It didn’t take long to reveal the test results of just how unfit I really was. Shortness of breath. Very low endurance for the distance. Carrying a few saddle bags of weight. It left me feeling worn out, out of sorts and out of shape! That reality check about my physical condition caused a spin off question. Just how fit is my faith? My spiritual condition? I mean, it seems things are speeding up and pressing toward critical mass.

I am just a little past half time in my life. Like you, I have suffered my share of challenges, losses and difficulties. Like you, I have failed sometimes but, overcome most of the time. I will be quick to admit there were times when the heartache and pain were a more than I expected and sometimes unexpected. There were times when I wanted to give up. Stop. Quit. What’s the use? Let me just live my life in peace. Reality, now is the time to dial up faith, courage, desire and passion!

God’s answer to Jeremiah’s complaint comes to mind,
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5 NIV

The same words translated through The Message Bible are even more poignant, “So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?”

The writer of Hebrews sites a time of shaking will come that will shake all that can be shaken… [for what purpose?] to reveal the Kingdom that cannot be shaken (12:26-28).

Check.

The Scripture suggests that there will be a time when the race will be accelerated, as when the horses are released. There are times when a safe, orderly society will be less orderly and downright dangerous. Times when trouble breaks out and the enemy breaks in like a flood. What will be our response? Are we fit for the challenge? Will I be among the faithful who can endure?

If you are loving and believing God today I am so thankful and encouraged. I am encouraged because I know you have been made fit for this time. Jesus exerted great effort in order to save my soul. It is that effort that I rest in and labor from. He saved us from ourselves; from our tendencies toward failure, disobedience and weakness. We have been granted a new status before the King of the Universe. We are now partakers of His divine Nature for His Glory! On my own from my old nature I could not perform nor achieve. As a new creation in Christ, now I can! We were born for more than an ordinary life. We were born to go beyond, to live in that reality as an Over-comer!

Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Under any conditions. Reality. Check.

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Living a Mission or Filling a Role

At LifeSpring Church our mission is to bring people to Jesus and, as a connection to his family develop them into Christ like maturity and empower them for their life mission in the world and ministry in the church, so that God’s name is lifted up throughout the earth.

In short our role in our community is to bring people to Jesus and to bring Jesus to people as a connection to a meaningful life of mission and service to God and others. 

Life @ Reality 2009What is your personal mission? It is an important questions because as I see it, missions determine roles.

If you think you are here by accident to do whatever; or if you feel that your life is not a big deal, then I would suggest that you have convinced yourself to be mediocre and blasé. Because it is a big deal! You are not here to merely fill a series of roles that are random and disjointed. You are placed here and now with a mission!

As a believer in an incredible God who does nothing by accident, but everything on purpose how can we let life slip by day after day with little or no regard for our WHY? The artist BonJovi sings “I don’t want to be just another wave in the ocean; I want to be a rock, not just another grain of sand.”

The Creator did not throw ideas into a soupy pot and hope for the best. He was and is intentional. He spoke deliberate words and with great power put worlds in place and put a dreaming soul in every human being. He was and is purposeful and has an end in mind! All of life is to be lived to bring glory, (which is praise, honor, regard, awe and reverent respect) to Him who governs and maintains every unit of matter in the entire universe for our benefit! 

Roles serve a purpose. However, a mission builds connectivity for past roles and a basis for choosing roles in the future. Let’s live like that. Let’s be intentional and purposeful about WHY we are here. If you haven’t yet taken time to think through and write out a personal mission statement begin today!

 

Tragedy in the Game of Life

Some would say that the game of football mimics life. Certainly, like the game of football, everyday life has its opponents and challengers, setbacks, scores, injuries, competition, wins and losses.

What happened in the world of football the other day with the murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs was not just a tragedy in professional football, but it is a real tragedy in everyday life. Our prayers are with the two families left with loss and for the young child who lost both parents.

While I know such events are charged with many contributing factors, the questions mount around such a devastating loss of life. What was going on in one man’s personal life that he found no place to decompress? What amount of private pain would be so intense that it would find its way out in such a horrific fashion? Are events like this a sign of a deeper problem? A problem, not just within professional sport, but also within our way of life? Is there anything anyone could have done to help?

We have been stunned repeatedly by explosive acts of violence coming from the unsuspected. From being bullied to deep hidden offense, from school yards to corporate offices tragedies like this have occurred.

Obviously life is not without pain. When in everyday life we encounter colleagues, coworkers, neighbors or family do we remain silent and “tough it out” in private pain, or is there any safe place or are there any safe people out there where one can find release?

Quarterback Brady Quinn, of the Kansas City Chiefs, in an interview said it like this. “When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us. Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”

Some time ago I was greeted by a fatherly friend with a grin, “How are you doing, you liar?” Shocked by the well meaning question it awakened me to the tendency that most of us, myself included default to that of “appearing to have it all together”.

Maybe the real tragedy in the Game of Life is that we have lost connection with our selves and one another. We choose to be strong and successful rather than risk appearing weak, overwhelmed or having questions but no answers. We are convinced that everyone is doing just fine, so why shouldn’t I?

Let’s be candid and straight with ourselves and about ourselves. No one should have to suffer in silence or alone. Suffering is a part of the human condition. But, hope is the antidote.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” Psalm 42:5

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” Romans 5:5

Here are five suggestions to help you or someone you know to live in hope:

  1. Find something in your life to laugh about! It could be good news or bad news like you’re late for work, the car has a flat, a brilliant sun rise, something you said, or your boss gave you an unexpected raise.
  2. Find someone to laugh with! It could be anyone.
  3. Choose to be candid and open about disappointments by putting it into words. Use your words, you liar! (see above)
  4. Develop friendships with people who accept both the beautiful and the ugly in your life (all of us have both), and who believe the best is yet to come.
  5. Hold to an attitude of abundant anticipation. You are bigger than what happened, and you have a choice in what will happen. Keep looking up and looking forward.

Your life is no game! Your life is precious!

Authentic vs. Presumptuous

I have been stirred recently by our discovery sessions on the Purpose of the Church. When all the wrappings and packaging is pulled away the real, authentic purpose of the church is changed lives!

Authenticity is the willingness to let go of the person you think you should be. I like that. Authenticity for the church would mean laying aside presumption and be willing to let go of what we think we should be. As individuals if we could be authentic, we’d find less anxiety and stress and more peace, more connection, more ability to love and be loved. We would experience changed at many levels.

Jesus was authentic. He refused to fit into the expectation of those around him. He was who he was. He changed the world. If we would only be as He was we would be doing more of what He did!

Changed lives are the center piece of purpose because changed lives will change the world! The authentic church is here on the earth to be God’s primary change agent. The impact of changed lives is ENORMOUS!

The book of Acts is full of examples. The life of Paul is one of them. His life was changed radically by his encounter with Jesus Christ as he road tripped to Damascus. So enormous was the change in his life that later in the book it was said of Paul and Silas, These are they “who have turned the world upside down.” This wasn’t just hyperbole, it was reality! Great numbers of people followed and their lives were changed. Changed lives change the world!

The key is that life has changed because of Jesus. Authenticity changes churches. Changed churches change lives. Changed lives change the world! And sometimes our role is to initiate, sometimes to facilitate, but always to nurture the change!

Let’s be authentic. The world depends on it!

Upgrades in a Downgrade

Change doesn’t have to be random, chance, unexpected or beyond you and you are caught off guard!

You make a difference. Your faith and words are mighty and moving by virtue of the work of Christ. Differentiate yourself based on facts found in the finished work of Jesus! The past is over. The new has come. You are the new! His power works mightily in you.

Though most change seems to be sudden and instantaneous don’t ignore the fact that a process has been in place often going on behind the obvious. The process, be it long or short, brings about the change. Every process has a cause, a beginning, a trigger. Life gives power to thoughts, habits and processes. Our goal is to no longer give birth out of our past! New Life gives birth to new thoughts, new habits, new processes and innovations.

When we desire to create the future, how do we really do so? Thoughts and habits are the tools by which we change and build a better future. Is it time to upgrade your tools? Giving yourself to prayer, regular connections of fellowship and remembering that the new has come are essential habits in your tool bag.

You aren’t a victim any more.

Let’s build together as we build with our Maker.

Did You Say Something?

Did you say something?

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” –Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

I don’t know about you, but my experience is that happiness is not an inalienable right endowed by our Creator; it’s a personal responsibility. Our Declaration of Independence does not defend ‘the right of happiness’ but rather ‘the pursuit’ thereof.

The pursuit is taking responsibility for the state of things and work out the behaviors that create the happiness you seek. The pursuit is a big part of being happy. Unfortunately, many folks expect someone else to do the work of pursuing and make me happy.

While it is not a magic bullet there is enormous power in the words we exchange with ourselves. What direction are the words flowing! Much of personal responsibility lies in telling your self the right words! Listening is passive. Talking is active.

By nature I am selfish and here is the really bad news: so are you! Herein is our core problem. Most selfish people I meet are pretty unhappy. I know myself best. I have done my share of complaining, most of it to myself. Self takes up the bully pulpit and quickly points out all the justifiable reasons why the happy is gone! If you are like me my self-talk quickly pulls out the pity party, the comparison survey, and the blame talks. Listening is passive and I can’t afford to be passive with human nature, it will get ugly faster than stink on a skunk.

When we tie happiness to people and things disappointment is almost guaranteed. What made me happy last time, probably won’t this time. The bar is constantly moving and we want more.

Listening to your self can be beneficial. I would prefer however, to take the active position and tell myself the truth. Whether you’re reflecting on the past or dreaming for many coming tomorrows we must check the flow of the words and pictures that float through our minds. I had a college professor who said, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” If you want change for the better then talking to your self is much more productive. I spend less time listening to self. No. If I want true and more happiness I think Dr. Lloyd-Jones is right.

David knew the difference. Have you ever wondered who was talking to David’s soul? He heard his own heart say something and he talked to himself!

  • (Psalm 42:5-11MSG) “5Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. 6When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

When you feel the happy meter is showing “LOW” it is time for a rehearsal. Take center stage. Give your heart a good talkin’ to.

It is time for a Self-Talk you may want to consider these:

  1. Quiet your heart to focus on gratefulness and the Greatness of God; no negative nest building in your mind.
  2. Center yourself on the reality of who you are in Jesus Christ through His obedience and effort. You are not needy, you are complete in Him.
  3. Listen to the voice of truth in the form of the Spirit of Truth; He will give you evidence of the abundance which is accessible in your life. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes…He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” –John 16:13-14
  4. Proceed to talk to your self. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks! Words do have power. Words are concepts and pictures. We will find more gold when we do more talking to our selves from the gold mine.
  5. Back up your words to self with His Word. Share your dreams with a trusted friend or confidant, someone who truly celebrates you and your destiny!

Happiness is not a Fruit of the Spirit but it is a by-product of Christo-stasis: having a Christ center.