It’s been more than 30yrs, but I still remember one tackle. I was in elementary school and my parents were moving me from the YMCA football league to the City league. These kids were older and bigger. I was a little scared, but also knew that I was good. (Well, I thought I was.) It was my first day of practice and in spite of my nerves, I had something to prove. They put me in as a Defensive End and told me that my job was to make sure the ball didn’t get outside of me.
The quarterback got the ball and started running my way. I recognized it as the “Option” and saw him pitch to the running back. With 3 blockers coming right toward me, I could make out one leg on the runner. My heightened awareness caused everything to go into slow mo. I could see one tiny hole to thread the needle of defenders and I went straight to it. This wasn’t just a tackle during practice. I was earning my place on the team. It was important. I got him and more importantly, it caught the attention of my new coach.
I wonder if this is what we are all longing for? Singular purpose. Focus.Heightened awareness. A higher purpose for the mundane things we do each day. There were no distractions for me that day – well, not in that moment. Nothing could have taken me away from that moment. I was passionately pursuing that tackle and wouldn’t have noticed if a two-headed purple alligator had crawled onto the field.
Is there something that makes you get lost in the moment? Anything that stirs your passions so much that nothing distracts you?
The older I get, I must admit that the number of things that distract me has probably increased. My children command my attention and my bride deserves it, but I’m certainly guilty of not “hearing” them. When I’m with them, I find myself thinking about work or other things. When I’m at work, my mind is at home. I wonder how life would be different if I could truly just “be” wherever I actually am? Could I develop the kind of focus that allowed me to make that tackle in my regular, everyday activities? Somehow, I think Jesus may have been this way – completely present in every moment. The people He was with always seemed to think He was completely in tune with them. He always “heard” them. I wanna be like Jesus. Present. Focused. Passionate. Attentive. Loving.
These are things we should all think about every now and then.
As you think about your personal vision…
What one thing bothers you most about the world?
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what one thing would you pursue for God?
What do you tend to pray for the most?
What gives you energy?
What have you secretly believed you would be really good at if only you were given a chance?
What do others say that you are good at? That you are not good at? (Have you asked lately?)
What projects or accomplishments, though probably unnoticed by others, created a deep sense of satisfaction on your life’s journey? What projects or accomplishments from grade school years, high school, college and early career?
What would you want people saying about you at your funeral? State three words that reflect “who you were.” State three words that reflect “what you accomplished.”
Who are your heroes? Why do you admire them? Who have you wanted to emulate or spend time with but have not been able to?
Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24; and Mark 8:34 all tell of Jesus’ call for us to deny ourselves, carry our crosses, and follow Him. It’s too bad we want our crosses to be “light.” Matt Redman wrote a song (Way of the Cross on the album The Friendship and the Fear) with a lyric that says, “I’ve crafted myself a more comfortable cross.” Anyway, this cartoon reminded me of all of this stuff.
Using Biblical examples, Donald Miller describes the power of story for teaching and influencing others.
He suggests that most American Christians have been allowing others to write the stories that they live in and encourages them to write our own stories.
Every good story has four elements –
1. A good protagonist/hero/lead character,
2. a risky mission/worthy objective,
3. a conflict,
4. and a resolution.
After watching, I wondered if most of us have been so concerned about protecting our families from the conflict that we have forfeited our mission and purpose? The problem is that if we don’t have a good mission/purpose, then our story is not one that most people would want to watch – it’s a boring story if the mission isn’t important enough to require sacrifice and effort. Miller relates it to watching a movie about a guy who is trying to buy a Volvo – not a very worthy mission.
He goes on to describe a friend who had a troubled daughter. She was involved in drugs and had a boyfriend that her father did not approve of. After a long talk, his friend (the girl’s father) realized that there were two stories being offered to his daughter. She could live in the exciting, on the edge story with her boyfriend where she felt loved and accepted, or she could live in the story she was finding at home where things were sort of boring and she was ignored by her parents who seemed to be fighting all the time. Once he came to this realization, he decided to write a better story for his family. At a family meeting, he announced that together they would raise money for a $20,000 orphanage in Mexico. Conflict ensued since he hadn’t warned his wife. With the new story being offered, his daughter was intrigued enough to start searching for ways to raise money on-line. Within two weeks, she had broken things off with the boyfriend and was focusing her attention on getting outside of herself to raise money and serve that little village.
I wonder if this is why men hate church so much. I mean. . .think about the story offered to men by the church. It’s a story where the heros are the little old men who have been “faithful” to the church by sitting in their pews for 40 years. Where’s the adventure? Passion? Like most families, the church has been so concerned with protecting itself, that it has lost it’s purpose, it’s mission. What if the church was everything God had called it to be? A place where people are willing to sacrifice everything to take the Gospel to a hurting and dying world. Now that’s passion. That’s a story that men want to be a part of. That’s a story worth dying for.
What story will be told by your life? Will you live in God’s story or allow the world to write it for you? Is your life story a page-turner? Are you a strong protagonist/hero? Is your mission/purpose worthy of dying for? Is there sufficient conflict to make a great story? (Jesus says, we will be persecuted if we follow Him, so we should have conflict.) Are you hanging on to the promise of Scripture for resolution?
I have a friend, Jonathan Root, who is a professional juggler/comedian. His team has 5 International Championship Titles and 3 World Records. You can check him out at www.rootberry.net. Recently, we’ve been having a conversation on facebook about leadership and juggling. I just thought I’d share some of our conversations with you guys here. Although most of the ideas expressed here are his, I’ve marked specific things he said in blue. The rest is just my ramblings about it all.
I started out asking him the basic question, “How is juggling like leadership?” Here’s his answer:
Juggling is not like leadership. Juggling is a means to entertain people. I use juggling to draw and keep peoples attention. Then I use the juggling and comedy to relate to them. A pastor, a speaker and entertainer (in this case a juggler) are all trying to effectively communicate with their audience. If you cannot communicate with your audience then your message will be ineffective. And the message we bring is the message of salvation so we cannot (afford to) be ineffective in communicating our message. This has probably led you to more questions so feel free to ask.
As our discussion got deeper, it became clear that he is passionate about communicating the gospel effectively – much like a pastor or Christian leader.
Here are some of the main lessons I learned in our conversations.
1. Juggling and leadership are all about practice. “Focused practice
make an excellent juggler. Trying the same tricks over and over till
you hit them every time is an art.” In leadership, I’d have to say that the same is true. The more you lead, the better you become. The difficult thing is that a true leader is seeking to do something like it’s never been done before, while a juggler is trying to be consistent about doing the same thing over and over. Still, even in a new situation, all of our past experiences or practice helps to guide our decisions as we lead. Practice is all about developing skills.
2. Like leadership, in juggling it is critical to not watch the ball hit your hands, but to watch a ball until it
starts to fall then you know where to put your hand. In leadership, this is similar to the way that a true leader watches culture and the movement of God so that he can lead others to place themselves in the right place to serve Him. Watching the ball until it starts to drop is all about vision.
3. Professional juggling requires attention to details like directions to venues, time management for making flights, and constant improvement/development of your show. Otherwise, you’ll eventually burn enough bridges that you won’t be able to book anything. I wonder how many churches have found themselves in this place? It seems that our culture feels pretty “burned” by the church and I’m not sure it’s completely fair to them, but it’s still true none-the-less. It’s important for the Christian leader to seek constant improvement/development of the people (the church) too. Leaders must be managers too.
4. There is something called a “squeeze” in juggling where two balls end up landing in the same hand at the same time. These are not done very often because they are so difficult, but according to Jonathan, “you have to want to do them.” There are a lot of things in the church that we like to avoid. When a true leader’s vision requires a “squeeze,” he goes for it. No matter what the difficulty, like Moses, he finds the courage to follow God through the Red Sea’s parted walls of water. God saves us through the “squeezes” not from them.
5. Juggling is an art. The best leaders in juggling are the guys who are good at putting it all together – Routining the juggling, mixing in comedy and having it all relate to the audience so they laugh and clap. In those moments the audience experiences more than just juggling. There is a sort of “art” to leadership too – when everything comes together under the right leader there is something that can’t really be defined – something that transcends the task at hand – something that goes beyond the vision. True leadership “feels” God’s timing and transcends our humanity.
By the way, here’s a clip of Jonathan and his friend Bill from their shows.
Here’s the info I spoke on last Sunday Night. I got it all from a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio – the founder of the Passion Worship movement.
1 – milky way galaxy
Psalm 19:1-4 – New Living
“The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;
yet their message has goneout to all the earth,
and their words to all the world.”
The stars are shouting God’s praises – day after day they’re telling us what they know! The stars are like a billboard telling us everyday about His glory and how great He is.
Big bang – there probably was a big bang when God created it all! Science and Christians are all seeking to find the truth in this mystery of creation.
God said “let there be light.” Of course – when God asks for something, that’s what He gets.
We don’t even know how big the universe is – the telescope isn’t big enough. God is laughing at us – He enjoys when we discover more, but He has so much more for us.
Habited planets? If the universe is just for us, then it’s way oversized. What if it’s primary purpose isn’t to give us a home, but to show off the glory of God? Then it’s probably the right size.
Light Speed is 186,000 miles/second – a beam of light could circle the earth 7 times every second.
Psalm 33:6 – “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
We live in the subdivision called the milky way universe. Consists of billions of stars. Scientists say there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies in the known universe.
Light year = 5.88 trillion miles/year
2 – milky way galaxy
If we were to count just the stars in the milky way galaxy one/second, it would take 2,500 years.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
We’ve got to right-size Him tonight. He is not our size. He doesn’t think like we think. He is working on a canvas bigger than anything we ever imagined. The heavens are telling us that, and they’re telling us that we are really really really really small.
3 – milky way galaxy
4 – milky way galaxy
The Milky way galaxy is a bard spiral galaxy which is 100,000 light years across. (remember a light year is 5.88 trillion miles)
5 – milky way galaxy with earth
Where’s earth? We’re not even in the center of our own subdivision – it’s not about you, it’s about God. You don’t wanna live in the center anyway – it’s scary there. It’s also scary in the bands surrounding the center – we live between them about 2/3 of the way out. Our solar system is too small to even put on this picture. Scientists say that our solar system is the size of a quarter and the milky way galaxy is the size of the North American Continent.
06 – earth
Earth – you don’t see any people, cities, countries. . .you don’t see the great need, the poverty, the strife, the pain, the glory, the glamour – as you step back you get this feeling that maybe we aren’t so big after all. We know the one who made this world must be huge. Maybe we aren’t as important as we thought. Maybe our plans aren’t so grand at all.
Neil Armstrong – first man who walked on the moon said, “I remember on the way home on Apollo 11, it suddenly struck me that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the earth. I put my thumb up and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out planet earth, but I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very very small.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Voyager was launched 1977 – to take pictures. In 1990, Voyager is 3.7 billion miles away from the earth traveling 40,000 miles an hour away from the sun. It takes 60 pictures, with 640,000 pixels in each image. It takes 5 and a half hours for each pixel to make it back to earth from 3.7 billion miles away. – talk about a dial-up problem.
07 – pale blue dot
Do you see earth in that one? It’s there. The “Pale Blue Dot” picture was taken – the suns rays reflected off voyager (4 billion miles away) to create the bands you see. Earth is the dot.
Famous astronomer called it a “mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam.” Our huge lives are all played out on a “mote of dust.” Not trying to make you feel small – I want you to see that you are small.
But it’s significant, insignificance ’cause as tiny as we are – we are prized my majesty. Who sent for us and knows us and loves us even though we are just tiny little specks in this vast universe that He made. Just as He can call the stars by name, He can start in this room and call each of us by name. And not only that – He could even tell you how many hairs are on your head and what you’re thinking right now and if you secretly desire to be sitting next to someone else right now. He knows us!!!!! And Is aware of us!!! And Loves us!! And Invites us into a relationship with Him that will never ever end!!! It’s amazing to think how big He is and that He still knows and cares for us.
Lets go on a journey now.
10 – sun
93 million miles out to the sun.
It burns you up. Raging ball of fire. Not the smiley face sun like we drew it as kids. 10,000 degrees on the surface. It’s like billions of nuclear explosions going off every second. It takes 8 seconds for light from it to go the 93 million miles from there to your skin. It came out of the mouth of God – He is not some kind of wimpy God. He is intense, powerful, ferocious, holy, and full of radiant splendor – He opens His mouth and stuff like this just come out. The sun is 100 times the diameter of earth.
11 – earth/sun comparison
That’s why you wanna thank God in your bed tonight that we are 93 million miles away from the sun.
12 – close up of sun
Close up of the sun from the Swedish solar institute – they’re doing studies of the sun – raging fire. Scientists say, it would take the gross national of the United States for 7 million years for our local power company to run the sun for one second – and it’s just one star out of billions in the milky way – which is only one galaxy of billions of known galaxies in the universe that God has made.
5.88 trillion miles is a light year – 440 light years out we find:
13 – plieades
The Pleiades constellation.
“Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion?
14 – vela pulsar
Vela Pulsar – 1000 light years away
what’s a pulsar? A star explodes into a supernova and can collapse back into itself into a magnetic intensity – it’s a highly magnetized neutron star – it’s center occilates 11 times a second – it sends out this intense signal:
A radio telescope captured this recording of the Vela Pulsar
The vela pulsar didn’t wanna miss out on the worship – it’s screaming “He’s Big!! He’s bigger than you think He is!! God is Awesome!!”
15 – hourglass nebula
8000 light years away – hourglass nebula – just beautiful – God is watching us.
16 – helix nebula
17 – star dust ring
28 million light years out (28 million X 5.88 trillion miles) – sombrero galaxy
18 & 19 – sombrero galaxy
Sombrero galaxy – not just a cool little frisbee thing – its 50 thousand light years wide – trillions of miles thick – why is it there? Just to glorify God – to give a small example of who He is. Showing off the greatness and majesty of God.
20 – hubble telescope
Hubble hangs out 353 miles above the earth.
21 – whirlpool galaxy
31 million light years away – grand design galaxy – hundreds of billions of stars – pink areas are star-forming incubators – every second a new star is born in our universe – God is naming them all and putting them where He wants
Let’s go far far far out! Indescribable how far out it is
22 – christ
He made everything we’ve seen tonight – and yet He chose to be hung on a tree that He himself created. The maker of the entire universe came to that pale blue dot –
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
23 – x structure at core of whirlpool galaxy
The world – the universe is all about God. Not us, but God. And He has decided to ask you and I to be a part of His big big story. It doesn’t matter how big your situation seems, God is bigger and He loves you! Nothing can shake you out of God’s hand as He holds you.
Love so amazing so divine, demands our my soul my life my all.
How should we live as Christians? What banner should we wear everywhere we go? Here’s something I found.
A young African pastor had this posted somewhere in his house where he’d see it regularly.
My Commitment as a Christian
I‘m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me–my banner will be clear!