When Options are a Bad Thing

book

Most of us love options. It makes us feel like we are in control of things and that we aren’t missing anything. This is why churches offer a ton of programs and why we love going restaurants with huge menus (think the Cheesecake factory). Studies show that, the more options you have, the less likely you are to buy. The more options a church has, the less people plug in. They don’t know what is most important and what they should give their time to.

I love the message version of James 1:5 – 8. It says: If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

That last phrase is crucial.

Many times when we pray, when we seek God’s direction, we don’t fully commit or move forward with God. We keep our options open.

We don’t fully invest in generosity, holding back just in case it rains and God doesn’t provide. We don’t fully commit to community or what He has called us to, just in case we got it wrong. This leaves us feeling in control, but it also keeps us from fully experiencing the life God has for us and has called us to.

Besides control, one of the other reasons we keep our options open in life and with God is boredom. We are creatures who fear boredom, who fear down time. Think about the last time you just sat on your couch. What do you do when life is quiet and nothing is happening? You probably grab your phone and scan twitter, Facebook, pinterest or instagram.

We train ourselves to wait to the last possible minute in life to make a commitment. We tentatively plan on being somewhere, but only if nothing better presents itself.

We keep our options open.

We do this with God. We read something in the bible, hear a sermon and see something we should change, but we wait. What if it wasn’t God speaking? What if there’s a way around this passage? I know the bible says this, but what if I do that?

All the while, we keep our options open.

We want to pray for something, like James tells us, but we don’t. A piece of us doesn’t want God to answer our prayers because that would call us to have faith, to trust, to wait on God and give up control. Instead of pushing all our chips into the corner with God, we hold on to one so we can keep our seat at the table if it doesn’t work out.

And then.

We miss out.

We go adrift. We are tossed around.

If your life feels like it is being tossed around. If you feel like you are being bounced and can barely hang on, there is a moment when you realize, you’ve kept your options open and you aren’t fully trusting God. You haven’t fully trusted His way, you’re still holding on to a piece of yours.

When that happens, James tells us that we don’t just miss out on a small part of Jesus, we miss out on the whole thing. We don’t get anything from the Master. 

We miss it all.

[Image]

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

What You’re Fighting About Isn’t What You’re Angry About

bookThink about the last fight you had with someone. It might be your spouse, child, a boss, employee. If you are a pastor, think about the last angry person you met with and the reason they gave for their anger and why they are leaving your church.

Now, the thing you were fighting about, the reason someone gave for leaving your church, that isn’t what they are angry about, that isn’t what the argument was about. 

I remember sitting in a counseling class in college. It was incredibly boring and then in a moment of God’s providence, I paid attention towards the end of one class and my teacher said this, “When life is stressful, when life is out of control, when people don’t know what to do, they take their anger out on the closest authority figure in their life. If you are a pastor, that will often be you.”

For 12 years as a pastor, this has proven to be true on a weekly basis.

Here’s a way to know if this is happening to you: does the response match the situation?

Often, fights happen in marriage and are started because of a crying child, something not being put away, something not getting done, a miscommunication and then…boom.

The fight isn’t about the child, something being left out or something not getting done. It is about the underlying issue that it represents. It is about being able to trust the other person, count on them.

What couples do, is fight about the issue at hand. They then continue to have the same fight for years with no resolution. It isn’t until they have a discussion about the actual issue, and only then, will they be able to move forward.

Here’s a church example. “We’re leaving because you didn’t start this ministry that I want.” That isn’t the issue. What is the issue at hand is either a disagreement in vision and where the church is going and/or an unwillingness for this person to follow a leader. They want more power or authority than they have. Or, “We’re leaving because you don’t preach deep enough.” That isn’t the reason. What they are leaving for is without their “deep preaching” they have to take responsibility for their spiritual journey, and, with all this “shallow preaching” going around this church, we have a bunch of unchurched people who don’t know Jesus showing up and they are acting like they don’t know Jesus and that is uncomfortable.

I remember when we first planted Revolution and people were coming and going quickly, which happens in a church plant. I tried to meet with as many people leaving as I could to learn from them and what went wrong. We still do this as often as we can as a church. In each of those meetings, we talked about what frustrated them about Revolution, but 50% of what we talked about at those meetings was their frustration around their job, their spouse or their child who wasn’t growing up like they hoped.

Proving my professor right.

When life is stressful, when life is out of control, when people don’t know what to do, they take their anger out on the closest authority figure in their life. If you are a pastor, that will often be you.

The next time you have an argument with a child or a spouse stop and ask, “Are we really fighting about this? Or is something else driving this?” Are you tired? Run down? When was your last date night? Katie and I argue about the silliest things if we miss a date night.

When someone leaves your church, listen to their complaints and then try to find the heart issue with it and try to discuss that. They will probably still leave your church, but at least you’ll know why they left.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Links for Your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

How God brings two seemingly different people together in marriage.

Many people wouldn’t put Taylor and me together. In high school, we probably would not have been friends. She probably would have thought I was a nice, boring, judgmental Christian kid; I probably would have thought she was a nice, lost, party-scene girl who guys like me are supposed to avoid. People like us, with our backgrounds and histories, are not supposed to meet, fall in love, and covenant their lives to each other.

Dan Black on What the best leaders do before bed.

While a morning routine is valuable, we should not overlook our nightly routine. The morning is about preparing for the day’s activities while the night should be about refocusing our energy on specific activities that allow us to relax and recharge. The best leaders have specific activities they routinely do before going to bed.

David Murray on 7 lessons from failure.

My failures are usually the result of over-confidence. When I’ve failed it’s often because I was putting too much trust in myself and not enough in God. A happy side-effect is that it has usually produced more prayerful dependence upon God.

12 important things about unchurched families.

Unchurched people feel no more guilty about missing church on a Sunday than you feel about missing synagogue on a Saturday.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

You Long for Blessing

book

There are two great words in the Bible that describe the posture of our souls toward other people. One is to bless. The other is to curse. We are creatures with wills, and in every encounter with other people we will what is good for them, or fail to do so: we will what is bad for them. Blessing is not just a word. Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another. We must think it, and feel it, and will it. -Dallas Willard, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You

Blessing is not something we talk a lot about in our culture, or experience or do. Our culture is more concerned about being right, putting others down, getting others in line, controlling outcomes.

Yet, blessing is something long for.

So how do you bless someone instead of curse them? Here are ___ ways to bless someone:

  1. Have a right heart. No one blesses from a place of pride or selfishness. It is a giving away. It might be financial, time, effort, care or love on your part to someone else. This is why it is rarely done. We bless people we think deserve, instead of blessing the people God has given to us. I remember when I got married and the pastor who had mentored me through college prayed over me. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. Here was a man that to this day, I have done very little for simply because I couldn’t give him anything. He mentored me, showed interest in me, used his connections to better me and my ministry and he was asking God to pour more blessings on me. That’s a right heart. Giving, knowing that you will get nothing back. 
  2. Help them see who God wants them to become. Because blessing comes from someone, you are really helping the person you are blessing helping them see themselves as God sees them and who God wants them to become. This might be challenging a child to be who they are called to be. At the end of the day, this is vision casting. This is painting a picture for someone about how they are settling in life. Not in a negative way or a “stop doing that” sort of way. But, don’t you want more out of life kind of talk. There is a difference. One is negative that shows how much smarter you are and one is more helpful and comes from a place of serving that says, “I don’t want you to miss God’s best in your life.”
  3. Be willing to serve someone. Blessing is about giving something of yourself away, to someone. You may serve them, be generous to them. It might simply be words spoken to them. It will require you to take a step towards them. Blessing is not reciprocating. There is a difference. When I bless my children, I am not expecting them to give something back for it, or to earn it.
  4. Blessing shows someone where they have come from, but where God wants to take them. Each year, I write a letter to our kids on their birthday. In the letter, I highlight how they have grown this year, how God has worked in their hearts and lives, what has happened in our families. My plan is to give these letters to them when they graduate high school and go to college. I want them to have a picture of who they are, where they have come from, so that it influences them onto where they are going. In Scripture, when someone blesses someone there is usually a genealogy nearby in the text. This is a reminder of where these people have come from, their history. In essence, it is who they are, their identity. Blessing is a way of reorienting someone’s identity, helping them to see things more clearly so they are on track.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Make me Approve of You

book

I preached on the need and desire for approval that we all have. Granted, we all feel it to different degrees. In my sermon, I mentioned how my desire to win, to be right, to have power and control always outweighs my desire for approval. It is still there though.

This blog post may feel more like a confession that I’m letting you in on. Hopefully this will be an encouragement to you or you’ll see yourself in it.

For me, I was convicted how out of my desire for power and control, I can very easily make my relationships about my approval of someone else.

I can be good at putting incredibly high standards on people, making them feel guilty so they will ultimately do what I want.

This is how I control things. In the end, it is also how I can easily help people sin by gaining my approval.

It is interesting when we talk about the idols of the heart or the sin in people’s lives, we focus on the person sinning. We should. They are responsible. In doing this, it is easy to let the people off who cause the sinning. Granted, someone seeking my approval is not my fault and they stand before God on that. I stand before God on how I cause someone to sin or stumble.

That is on me.

As I think about legalism, the gospel, the idols of my heart and hopefully as you think about those things, my hope with this blog post is to get you to realize in your quest for approval, control, comfort or power, you cause others to worship their idol by your actions. In your quest for comfort, you might help someone seek even more control so things don’t fall through the cracks because you are so laidback and letting whatever happens happen. In your quest for approval, you cause others to seek power because you are willing to be a doormat to their sin and ego.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

That Won’t Change You

Graphic

What an incredible week we had last Sunday at Revolution!

We broke through 400 as a church, had 2 baptisms, 7 people indicated they began a relationship with Jesus and we had over 25 first time guests.

I’m excited to see what God has in store for us this Sunday as we continue our brand new series Change as we look at Galatians 1:6 – 10 if you want to read ahead.

As you think about change in your life, at some point the idea of being free from something will come up.

I said last week: the reason most people fail to change in their life is they change the wrong things.

This week, we’ll take that a step further: the reason most people fail to change in their life is because they look to the wrong things to changethem. 

In our lives, we look to our willpower or circumstances (I’ll change when I get married, have kids or _____ happens) to change us. We look to other people to change us, (if they notice me, accept me, love me) that will bring change in my life. We look to a lifestyle, having a certain car, gadget, house, vacation or comfort to change us. We don’t just look to these to change us, we look to these things to save us as well, to give us hope and a future.

In the end, all these things give us what they promise to give us, not what we hope they will give us. 

If you or someone you know looks to something or someone other than Jesus as their hope for change, life, purpose, security or approval, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution.

If you brought someone with you last Sunday, shoot them a text and invite them back this Sunday.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

Trevin Wax on The uselessness of twitter battles.

Twitter is a place for conversation, but once we go into battle mode, I think the legitimate conversation is already over. Twitter battles are like putting on a spectacle for the perverse pleasure (or dismay) of the Twitter audience. Has anyone watching one of these debacles ever said, “You know what? You convinced me! I’m wrong and you’re right.” No one. Ever.

21 ways to perk up your productivity.

Chuck Lawless on 10 ideas from wise leaders.

Give your family veto power over your schedule.  He’s an incredibly busy man, but he somehow manages his schedule well. Here’s what he taught me: involve your wife before you make a commitment that requires you to be away from home after work hours. Be prepared to change your schedule if your family says, “We need you at home.” You’ll be less likely to lose your family in the midst of busyness if they have opportunity to help you plan your schedule.

Denny Burk on How to deal with false teachers.

Not every purveyor of false teaching is a lackey of the Devil. We have examples in scripture where bona fide believers are the source of error in the church. Apollos was a man mighty in the scriptures who taught accurately about Jesus but who nevertheless was only familiar with John’s baptism. In Apollos’ case, his deficient teaching was an error of omission. He simply did not yet know the full apostolic message. Priscilla and Aquila came alongside Apollos and explained to him the way of God “more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Presumably, Apollos responded favorably to their correction such that Paul would later identify Apollos as a co-laborer in preaching the gospel (1 Cor. 3:5-9).

3 tips on being a friend of sinners.

If Jesus was a friend of sinners, we should be too, it seems — somehow, someway. And instantly, this discussion can drift into a much bigger one about Christians and culture and all that. But instead of going there, let’s just talk friendship for a minute. Friendship, which is not without its implications, is more practical and relevant than a primer on the church’s posture in society. So in that light, here are three tips on being a friend of sinners.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Slow Evangelism

book

Part of the problem with evangelism is many Christians feel they need to get the whole gospel out in one conversation. The reason for this is many Christians are only ever in a position to ‘evangelize’ strangers, because all their friends are Christians. Evangelizing friends and neighbors, gradually, relationally, over an extended time, means that the breadth and beauty of the gospel can be expressed slowly without the urgency of the one-off pitch. -Michael Frost, The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

 

mind dump

  • Yesterday at Revolution was awesome.
  • We are in a series called All In right now and I spoke on our part in evangelism yesterday and how we can serve and love those around us to be given a hearing about Jesus.
  • Too many Christians either don’t love well so no one cares or they answer questions people aren’t asking.
  • In the end, we miss the chance to share our faith.
  • Love spending these 4 weeks on this important topic.
  • This Sunday, I’m speaking on how to pray big prayers for your life and for those around you.
  • If you, as a follower of Jesus, are not praying for anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, that’s a problem.
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here.
  • I have been loving how my MC has been coming together and growing in community.
  • By far, this has been one of our best seasons of MC personally.
  • Saturday night I let my boys stay up to watch the heartbreak that was Arizona’s loss to Wisconsin.
  • While a good game with bad calls made by the refs against both teams, it’s sad when you feel like a game (going either way) is decided by the refs instead of by the players.
  • I read Jonathan Merritt’s new book over the weekend called Jesus Is Better than You Imagined.
  • It comes out tomorrow and you should buy it.
  • So good.
  • Katie and I watched Gravity over the weekend.
  • So intense.
  • Wow.
  • I thought it was good, thought it would be better than it was, but it is 90 minutes of sheer intensity.
  • We’re working our way through this years Oscar nominations for best picture.
  • Excited to watch 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club and of course Anchorman 2. 
  • Should’ve been up for best picture.
  • I did the last workout in the crossfit open this past weekend, 14.5.
  • It was 17 minutes of pure pain.
  • I’m blown away how people did it in half the time I did it in.
  • Unreal.
  • It’s hard to believe that this Sunday Katie and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage.
  • That is crazy talk.
  • For our anniversary this year, we are doing a date day or sorts next week.
  • Excited to spoil her.
  • Can’t believe she said yes and stayed with me all these years.
  • Beyond blessed.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Mission Leads to Life

When you preach or hear a sermon on mission, evangelism you should walk out of their feeling like you were just released and given the keys to life not burdened for a task.

Yesterday at Revolution we continue our series All In and I talked about sharing our faith through serving. This series though isn’t really about evangelism or sharing your faith, it is about the motivation to go all in, to change the world, to follow Jesus into the places he calls us. That motivation for changing the world, living our lives on mission, sharing the gospel all come from understanding the love God has for us.

The problem in many books and sermons on evangelism, missions or sharing your faith is that at the end, we feel overwhelmed, as if we don’t know where to start. But we also feel like we’ll never do enough.

I got a text after the sermon yesterday and someone said, “That’s exactly what we’ve been trying to do with our friends. We feel so freed up to reach them.”

When you preach on evangelism, people should walk out and feel empowered to do everything God has called them to do, because through the Spirit, they can.

Now, should your preaching challenge, help others to see how difficult this road ahead is? Yes. But it shouldn’t feel like a burden. Jesus took the burden and gives us his (Matthew 11:28).

Enhanced by Zemanta