Monday, January 29, 2007

My personal trainer Michael Jordan

Imagine for a minute that your greatest dream is to become a star basketball player (substitute you biggest dream). Your young, talented and love the game of basketball. You are in your senior year in high school. You’ve done pretty well but honestly you’re not sure that you have the skills needed to excel beyond. You have raw talent and ability, but nobody has stepped up to really work with you one-on-one. No one has offered to mentor you or let you be their apprentice. So you just do the best you can. If you could just find that perfect trainer…

Now the dream gets more interesting. Let’s imagine that one day while you’re shooting around in the gym alone a tall man walks in and sits down high up in the bleachers. At first you notice him but don’t really pay him much attention. At least not until you realize that he’s just sitting there watching you shoot. You’re curious but unwilling to engage him. Maybe he’s just upset about something and wants to get away. But you wonder…

Eventually you finish up and head to the locker room for a shower. You’re clean and dressed now. You’re packing up your gym bag when that same man walks in. Your jaw drops. It couldn’t be. It’s Michael Jordan! Arguably the best basketball player in the history of the game!

Jordan says hi and introduces himself to you (as if he needed an introduction). He says he enjoyed watching you practice. He says that he’s been to all of your games this season just to watch you play. He adds that he believes you could be a great basketball player. You have the raw talent and heart to be what it takes to excel at every level. He’s serious. That’s why he’s there.

He then makes an offer that you just can’t believe. He offers to coach you one on one; to mentor you in the game of basketball. He wants to make you his apprentice and teach you everything he knows about the game.

He says there is only one catch. You have to meet him at the gym once a day to train. He won’t call you to remind you unless you ask him to (yeah, right. Forget to be at the gym with Jordan). You have to make this a priority. It’s up to you to rearrange your schedule to make this work. He’s available whenever you want to practice. His goal is not to help you master the drills. It’s to make you the best basketball player you can be.

Would you accept that offer?

I would in a heartbeat! I think you would too. But here’s the thing. We’ve already gotten that offer. Not from our favorite athlete or accomplished professional, but from God Himself. He’s offered to be your personal trainer in life. He sees the raw talent. He knows your gifts, abilities and passions. He knows how to make you become the kind of person that would naturally do what Jesus would do if he were in your shoes. He's available 24/7. He’s eager to get started.

Here’s the catch. You have to meet with Him at least once a day to train. He won’t call you to remind him unless you ask him to. You have to make this a priority. It’s up to you to rearrange your schedule to make this work. He’s available whenever you want to train. His goal is not to help you master the disciplines. His goal is to make you like Jesus.

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." --John Mark, Mark 1:35, NIV

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Seen the Great Comet?

Comet McNaught as seen from Swift's Creek, Victoria, Australia on 23 January 2007

Comet McNaught (pictured), the brightest comet to appear in over forty years, becomes visible over the Southern Hemisphere. From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

The article begins, "Comet McNaught, also known as the Great Comet of 2007 and given the designation C/2006 P1, is a non-periodic comet discovered on August 7, 2006 by British-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught.[1] It made perihelion on January 12, 2007, and became easily visible to the naked eye for observers in the Southern Hemisphere."

I recently heard a quote by Rob Bell that got my attention on this thought of being seen by the world as you live like Jesus. It went something like, "If our church disappeared from our city tomorrow, would anybody notice or care?" In other words, are the people of your church (are you!) making such an impact on their neighbors that they would be sorely missed if they disappeared.

In the article, the comet is admired for what? Being easily visible. In the dark night, a bright light brings beauty and warmth to an otherwise, cold night sky. All eyes looking up are immediately drawn to it in wonder and awe.

Do we do this in our world? Our world is dark with sin. It's cold with little light from the Son. But if Jesus truly lives in us, he should be radiating light and warmth throughout our city through us. Is he radiating from you? Me?

And just like with the comet, all eyes looking will notice it. Because when you live like Jesus, it's going to get somebody's attention.

Jesus called us the "Light of the world." It's time to shine so that we'll be easily seen by the world who is already watching and waiting (like the astronomers) for anyone living a life like Jesus did.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out[a] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." --Paul, Philippians 2:14-16, NIV

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stop and Think

This 15 min. movie is top quality and well done. Francis Chan does a terrific job talking about what matters most in life. The website has lots of great resources as well. You can order the movie on DVD, get a free Bible, and more. Point those you care about to this site. I'm ordering 200 today!

Monday, January 15, 2007

typo | perspective

Don't skip past this just because it looks weird. Believe it or notyou can read it!I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht Iwas rdanieg The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnigto rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn'tmttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olnyiprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in therghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitllraed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mniddeos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as awlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiately cllaed Typoglycemia.Amzanig huh? Yaeh and yuo awlyas thought slpeling wasipmorant. Thanks Jared for forwarding this to me.

Here's what I walked away from this realizing. This is a great example of how people look at life. Some get real focused on the details. Their problems; their friends; their pet projects (their pets, for that matter), their jobs; their cars; their bank account and as a result, they behave in some rather irrational ways.

When you tried to read the paragraph above for the first time, maybe you tried to focus on the letters to see if there was some code or order to it. You couldn't read it. It wasn't until you "stepped back" in a manner of speaking and looked at the whole paragraph at once that the words began to lift off the page and become understandable. When we get so focused on the things in life we miss the meaning and purpose in life. Life should be lived with the "Big picture" in mind.

Those who follow Christ call it living in light of eternity. That's God's perspective and it should be ours too. If you want to talk more about how to do that, drop me a line or email.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sacrifice \Sac"ri*fice\

Sacrifice is offering, surrending or giving something of great personal value to God or someone else. The key is that it costs you something.

Can I really worship God when it costs me nothing; that is, when it isn't a "Sacrifice of praise?"

The author of Hebrews calls us to continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God. That is, I am to offer God praise that costs me something of great value. And I'm to do it 24/7.

It could be any of the following:

* Giving an extravagent financial gift,
* Choosing to serve some obscure person anonymously instead of going to the big game,
* Heping a new neigbhor move in,
* Inviting somebody to dinner that couldn't return the favor,
* Speaking to someone holding a "Will work for food" sign, or
* Singing songs in church without concern for how "foolish" you might look to other people.

Regardless of what it is, by definition, it must cost you something valuable. Otherwise, it's not a "Sacrifice of praise."

As I think about this verse I wonder how I can ever sing to God without worrying about what other people think. I guess I won't unless I think about the sacrifice of praise God made for me--and he didn't worry about what other people thought.

"But God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God." Hebrews 13:15-16

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

3 Questions

When it comes to the spiritual disciplines, most of the time I feel like a failure.

I think it has to do with the idea that the disciplines are the end instead of the means to the end. I realize that the end is to live or be like Jesus in life. But I'm not sure I live that way as it relates to spiritual disciplines. Let me explain.

John Ortberg, in a message to pastors in 1993, shared three questions he felt were most relevant to spiritual disciplines and the Christian life. There are:

1. What is the life of Jesus really like? In other words, what would it look like to live the life he lived and taught about today? (See the New Testament for the life of Jesus in detail)

2. What are the barriers in my life that keep me from living that way? (This includes sins but not limited to them)

3. What are the activities that I can engage in through which God, by the power of his spirit, can help me overcome those barriers?

It starts with the end in mind. The disciplines become a means to an end instead of the end themselves. The end is to live life like Jesus would if he were in our shoes. That is to love God and to love people. (Matt. 22:37-39)

In other words, start with life as Jesus intended it. Then identify the barriers in your life keeping you from living like Jesus intended. Then determine what activities will help you overcome those barriers. That's what spiritual disciplines are for. They are a means to living the life that Jesus intended.

As I come to understand this better, it changes the way I look at spiritual disciplines.

First, instead of doing them to earn browning points with God, I see them as spiritual training. Just like a basketball player shoots free throws everyday so that he can hit them in the big game, I practice daily disciplines so that when I live life (the real game) I can live it as Jesus would if he were in my shoes.

What now? I suggest you ask yourself these 3 questions. Write down your answers and prayerfully consider how God wants you to answer them. Then go for it and live the life Jesus really intended for you!



Happy New Year!

Even today it took extra effort to make sure I got the date correct. My habit has become 2006. Jesus talked about walking with him being a habit; something that took little effort.

Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) A branch doesn't try to grow--it just does when it's connected to the vine that provides life-sustaining nourishment. In the same way Jesus is telling us that the secret to the Christian life is to remain connected to him daily.

Just like I have to consciously think "Write 2007, not 2006" for the first few days of the new year, I consciously choose to build into my life spiritual habits that will help me stay connected with him. After a while, they become habits that are as normal as writing the date in December. For more helps go to free resources or click here for Bible reading plans.