Support

The longer I get to serve as a leader and pastor in the church, the more I interact with people who are truly struggling.  When I began at New Story 13 years ago, it was 5 years before I interacted with anyone who shared with me their feelings and thoughts toward suicide.  Even though I had grown up in a home where we attended AA meetings several nights a week – it was rare that I interacted with anyone battling alcohol addictions and actually talking about it.  However over the past 8 years I have been privileged to see more and more people open up about their struggles.  It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility.

It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility!

Whenever someone opens up to you – you are responsible, but probably not in the way you think.  You aren’t responsible to fix them!  I always feel responsible to fix them but that is a lie – a lie that implies that I am bigger and better than I actually am.  No, the responsibility that we have is different – we have a responsibility to respond well.  And you know what, most of us aren’t very good at that.  We end up criticizing people who just need encouragement.  We correct people who need comfort.  Maybe you tell people how to fix what they already know how to fix.  Sometimes we show people how disappointed we are – when all they need is a hug.

You aren’t responsible to fix them!

This is the struggle that has been looming on my mind as more and more people share with me their struggles with addiction, anxiety, fear, worry, suicide and more.  How should I respond and show support?  Because, isn’t that what we really want to do is support people?  To provide a lift up when they are broken up?

One passage that I think we could learn from when it comes to support is 1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

I love the distinctions in this verse – warn those who are idle and disruptive.  Encourage those who are disheartened…brokenhearted…or just plain broken.  Help the weak – whether that weakness is physical, emotional, spiritual or mental – help!  Finally, be patient with everyone.   I need to be patient with the growth of others.  I need to be patient with the life change.  I need to be patient in the middle of the struggle, because again…I’m not responsible to fix them.  I’m responsible for how I respond!  How about you?

Support

I Believe

Recently I was listening to a sermon that talked about the subject of belief.  The opening of the message talked about how belief is one of the most powerful capacities that we as humans have.  I couldn’t agree more.  Think about it:

  • Optimists always outsell their smarter and more educated coworkers.  Why?  – Belief!
  • People solve problems that were previously thought unsolvable.  Why? – Because no one told them it was impossible.
  • Businesses are formed and take off – often not because of intelligence, but persistence and belief.

That got me thinking about how important belief is for people who are following Christ.  Jesus left us with a few instructions

  • Love God (ok we can do that)
  • Love other people (well that’s not so easy)
  • Tell others about Jesus (but that’s scary)

But here is my point.  Yes – loving unlovely people is hard, but you can!  You know why?  Because you’ve been loved like that, and you aren’t as lovely as you always think.  You need to BELIEVE that it is possible and just keep swimming (sorry, I have little kids).

Yes – building relationships and sharing Jesus can be scary, but you can!  You know why?  Because God will help you and someone shared with you.  You don’t have to be a pastor or missionary.  You don’t need a degree – you need to BELIEVE that God will use your sharing to write a new story and just keep sharing.

Now, here’s the part for me: I need to BELIEVE that God can and will use us to see changed lives, raise up leaders and plant other churches.  So…here I am, publicly pronouncing my BELIEF!  Won’t you trust and BELIEVE with me?

I Believe

Far As The Curse Is Found

I came across an excellent article today that I had to share in light of our most recent series at New Story.  You can see it in it’s original form here.

I’m going to highlight a few portions of this article that I found refreshing.  I hope you will be encouraged too!

Far As The Curse Is Found by Nancy Guthrie

 

My husband, David, and I bought burial plots this week. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound very Christmassy. It’s not the kind of shopping most people are busy with this time of year.

Perhaps it seems a bit grim to be thinking about and even preparing for death during the Christmas season. But it seems to me that Christmas is exactly the right time to think about death. Tim Keller has said that we have to “rub hope into the reality of death.” And is there any time we sing more about hope than at Christmas?

We sing that this world was “in sin and error pining, till he appeared,” and we’re caught up in the wonder that Life itself, in the person of Jesus, entered into this world of sin and death. His coming brought with it the “thrill of hope” that causes this weary world to rejoice. But what is the cause for this joy? What is the essence of this hope? Our hope is that “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Our songs at Christmas serve to remind us that this season isn’t merely about looking back at that holy night when Christ was born. Rather, our celebration of his first coming is meant to nurture in us a greater longing for his second coming. In fact, we miss the point of that holy night if it does not awaken in us anticipation for the glorious eternal day to come.

A Song of Longing

One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been, “Joy to the World!” Since we sing it at Christmas, I always thought of it as a song about the birth of Jesus. But if we think through the words more carefully, we realize that this song can’t be about the first coming of Christ.

We sing, “Let earth receive her King!” And we know that when Jesus came the first time, the earth did not receive her King. Instead, the earth crucified her King. The first time Jesus came, the nations did not prove the glories of his righteousness. Instead, human history has proved, over and over, the extent of man’s rebellion against his righteousness.

When we look at the world around us, as well as into the painful parts of our own lives, we know that his blessing does not yet flow far as the curse is found. Instead, we see the impact of the curse in every part of our lives. Sin and sorrow still grow, and all the thorny effects of the curse remain the reality we live in day-to-day and year-by-year.

From Blessing to Curse

Of course, this is not the way things have always been. We read in Genesis 2:7 that “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” God blessed everything he had made so that his blessing defined the atmosphere of Eden.

But then Adam and Eve sinned. God cursed the ground and told Adam how this curse would impact him. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Gone was the chance to eat of the tree of life and never die. Adam would one day be buried in the ground, and his body would turn back into its dust.

Ever since Eden, every human life has ended in death . . . except for one. Yes, Jesus really died. But death was not the end for him. Likewise, all who are joined to him by faith can face death, knowing that it will not be the end for us either. Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:2249).

This certain hope gives us a reason to sing for joy at Christmas. When Christ comes again, earth will receive her King. Every knee will bow. The nations will prove the glories of his righteousness as people from every tribe, tongue, and nation dwell secure under the righteous rule of King Jesus. All oppression will have ceased. His blessing will flow far as the curse is found.

The Curse Finally Gone for Good

David and I know that the day is going to come when our bodies will be planted, like seeds, in the darkness of the earth. It will seem to some as though our lives have come to an end. But we know better. We know that yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. The darkness of our graves will one day be pierced by the radiant light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The silence of our graves will be disrupted by his thunderous voice. He will call the dust of our dead bodies out of those burial plots and transform them to be like his own glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

Those two little plots of ground will not prove to be our final resting place. The blessing of his resurrection life is going to penetrate the earth in which we are buried, and we will be raised to life. We are going to experience all that God promised when Isaiah prophesied, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead” (Isaiah 26:19). This hope enables us to sing songs of joy in the night as we wait for that glorious morn.

Far As The Curse Is Found

Why Is Everything SO Broken?

10.21.18 Title Slide

Even if you can push this reality to the side for large portions of your life, eventually something always happens that forces you to come to grips with the brokenness of our world.  Violence, terrorism, racism, slavery, prostitution, sex slavery, broken homes/families/lives, corruption…they all play across our screens everyday.

I grew up in a small town.  It was idealic!  There were problems, but I certainly didn’t understand the level of the brokenness until many years later.  The first real sign of the depths of the brokenness came in the form of the first counseling situation I had where a young woman talked with me about the abuse she had recently endured.  It was there that I felt the great brokenness of our world seeing it on her face.

So…how did it get this way?

Well, the world was broken when we entered it, but it didn’t start that way.  

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. – Genesis 1:31

Shortly after this the brokenness began.  Rebellion, violence, deceit, bitterness, jealousy, rape, abuse – all of the above enter the world in short order once the seal of sin was broken.

But there is more…

We’ve added to the brokenness.

No, you’re not as bad as you could be and neither am I.  No, you likely haven’t murdered anyone, but let’s start by stopping the lie that we are innocent!

So what about now?  Is there any hope?  Before we answer that question maybe we should start with addressing the ways that we continue to add to the brokenness.  You see, we add to the brokenness when we ignore it.

  • We add to the brokenness when we ignore sin in ourselves – acting like everything is okay and we’re just normal when we tolerate our own sin only adds to the idea that sin is normative.  Whatever you struggle with, you’re not alone, but lets not ignore the struggle – it only gets better when exposed to light.
  •  We add to the brokenness when we refuse to name it – when we refuse to call racism what it is, when we refuse to call lust what it is, when we refuse to call even verbal abuse what it is, we add to the problem.
  • The church adds to the brokenness when they ignore it in the communities.  When we ignore broken families, broken social programs, the brokenness that is prominent in our communities we forfeit the influence that we can have.
  • We add to the brokenness when we demonize pet sins.  When someones struggles are different from yours and you act like they are different than you – you characterize and call people by their sin…that is voice of the evil one.

 

So, what if we started by taking a look at ourselves and using our time to serve and meet real needs in our communities?  What if we sat down with those who see things different than us?  What if we listened?  Maybe, just maybe we could start to see repair to the brokenness through Christ.

If you’d like to see more on this subject check out the talk: THE FALL.

Why Is Everything SO Broken?

Who Are You Listening To?

9.16.18 Title Slide

The people you listen to will affect your destination.  

The people that we do life with and listen to absolutely affect the directions and destinations of our lives.  Think about it, your parents have affected you more than you often realize. It’s the same with our friendships – both personal and online.  2 Chronicles 18 talks about a friendship between King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat. Although Jehoshaphat was deeply committed to God, he arranged for his son to marry Athaliah the daughter of the wicked King Ahab and he formed a military alliance with him.  This particular alliance had 3 devastating consequences: 1) Jehoshaphat came under God’s wrath (2 Chronicles 19:2); 2) When Athaliah became queen, she seized the throne and tried to kill all of David’s descendants (2 Chronicles 22:10-12); 3) She brought the worship of false Gods to Judah which eventually led to the nation’s downfall.  

Read 2 Chronicles 18

Who’s In Your Ear?

Who do you tend to run to and listen to in the situations of life?  

Have you asked yourself this question: “Where are their lives headed?”

What do you think about the answers to that question?  

Are You Listening?

Who do you need to stop listening to?

Who do you need to start listening to?

Who Are You Listening To?

Attention Please!

9.9.18 Title Slide

“I will remember that day for the rest of my life.”  Have you ever said that? One of my memories was actually the first time I got to out on a motorcycle ride with some friends.  It was my first motorcycle and I was very new at riding. We drove all over the city and eventually ended up at Wyandotte County Lake to ride the curvy roads around the lake.  I was having a great time, until we started encountering some of the most curvy roads I had been on while driving my motorcycle. Suddenly my mind was filled with fear, my body tensed up and riding my motorcycle wasn’t so fun.  I was scared. Thankfully my friends recognized this and stopped for a minute. As we stopped, a young man on a very fast motorcycle with a young girl on the back came revving by. He stopped at the top of the hill right where we were and flew down the hill into a sharp curve.  He was showing off and looking around, when all of a sudden, he realized he was not paying attention and going too fast into the curve. I’ll never forget the sound of his girlfriend yelling and his bike sliding across the pavement. Thankfully they were ok…his bike was not!

 

At that point my friend pulled me aside and told me this – where you look while driving a motorcycle is where you will go!  And you know what…he is right.  If I stare at the curb, eventually I’ll put my bike in the curb.  Well, life tends to work that way too. What you give your attention to definitely determines the direction that you will go!  If I give my attention to my family and my wife, I find that I move closer and closer to them. When I give my attention to the Lord, I find that I move down a path that allows me to hear from Him over and over.  

 

1 Kings 16 introduces us to a King in the northern portion of Israel – King Ahab.  If you’ve read much of the Old Testament you’ve heard about Ahab and his wife Jezebel.  If you’ve never heard the story, there is a reason I would never encourage to name your daughter Jezebel!  Ahab gave his attention to a woman (Jezebel) and eventually married her. Her father had been the high priest of the Phoenician god Baal – a god of fertility who was often worshipped by self-harm and sexual immorality.  Jezebel aimed to lead the Israelite people into the same practices and Ahab listened.

 

 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.  (1 Kings 16:29-34)

 

  • Outside of work and family, what tends to capture your attention?  Are you satisfied with that pathway?
  • Verse 31 states that Ahab thought certain idolatrous practices were “trivial” or no big deal.  Where in our culture do we tend to treat dangerous things as “no big deal”?
  • Ahab’s attention lead to his destruction.  Where do you think your attention is leading you?  Is it leading you towards healthy and helpful destinations?
  • Is there anywhere you are headed towards a crash?  Are you ready for a change?
Attention Please!

What If There Is A Different Solution?

4_12

There has been so much talk about gun control, arming teachers and ending school violence.  I won’t jump into the deep waters of the political positioning here, and I certainly won’t act like I have a perfect solution, but I wonder if there is another solution?

About two months ago our staff started something together.  We each set daily reminders on our phones to go off at 4:12 pm to remind us to pray for the youth of our community.  We chose this particular time (4:12 pm) as a reminder of 1 Timothy 4:12 which says:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

We know that the majority of people who put their faith in Jesus do so between the years of 4 and 17.  With that in mind we are praying and asking God to move in ways that are beyond us.

Will you join us in praying?

We believe that God has big plans.  We believe that He is able to work in ways we can’t explain.  We also know that He hears us when we pray.  So join with us and pray each day for God to draw young people to himself.  We are praying at 4:12!

What would happen if we began to beg God to move in our schools?  What if there was a movement of faith instead of a response in fear?  Maybe, just maybe God would begin to change hearts and bring solutions through Christ.  That’s what we are praying for.

What If There Is A Different Solution?

True Lies? – The dangerous game of believing lies over truth.

I’m not good enough!

I’m not smart enough!

I’m not pretty enough or skinny enough!

I’ll never be enough…

I couldn’t do that.  I’m not gifted enough.

All of these statements are sentences that I hear on a regular basis, and I want to let you in on a little secret…they are thoughts that I have myself.  Sure, not every one of them runs through my head but the thoughts/ideas behind them certainly do.  You see there is a common idea that connect each one of those thoughts in all of our heads: My feelings, my thoughts and what other people say about me trump what God says.

My feelings, my thoughts and what other people say about me trump what God says.

Herein lies the problem, the lies.  We begin to believe them.  We begin to orient our lives around them.  So, the girl who struggles with her body image and hears from others that she isn’t enough…the lie begins to lead to a lifestyle of self-destruction through starving or cutting herself.

The athlete who desperately wants to be the best but finds himself/herself lagging behind…they begin to hear – he’s not enough – so he turns to PEDs or to a self-destructive lifestyle because their identity is now gone.

The family man who just wants to provide for his family…he too begins to hear that he isn’t enough.  The neighbors buy a better house, a nicer car and go to the hottest vacation spots, but not him!  If only you were smarter, more skilled and better at what you do, then you could move up.  He begins to believe that he’s not enough so he turns to the only thing that makes him feel “enough” – pornography!  The only problem is that it traps him.

Now, these may not be your stories, but likely it isn’t too different.  I find that we can all get into the comparison game – and no one wins with comparison.  Instead, we need to know just who we are and fight the lies with truth!

Instead, we need to know just who we are and fight the lies with truth!

What if instead we began to believe that we were made just like we are on purpose and God has a great plan just for us?  What if we believe these words:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.  (Psalm 139:1, 13-14)

The only way you are going to defeat the lies that threaten to destroy us is to believe the truth more!  Keep fighting.  You’re not alone!

For more information, I highly recommend you check out our recent Identity Theft Series.  You can find each talk here:

https://vimeo.com/album/4914407

12.31.17 One

True Lies? – The dangerous game of believing lies over truth.

There Is Something More – Three Questions To Ask Yourself About Purpose!

“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your happiness…your family or your career. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” – Rick Warren

If you are anything like me…and I think most people for that matter, you’ve wrestled with what you are supposed to be doing in this life.  Over the past two weeks at New Story Church we’ve been walking through a series called Identity Theft where we are exploring our identity and purpose.

Several years ago I came across this interview with Tom Brady – the Super Bowl winning quarterback of the New England Patriots.  He made this comment – “why do I have three Super Bowl rings and feel like there is still something greater out there for me?  There’s got to be something more!

This is again another reminder of the fact that we were created with a unique purpose and plan to do great things in serving God and others.  So, that sparked me to write down some questions that help guide us toward understanding and accomplishing our purpose.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself About Purpose

1.  What am I passionate about?  

Growing up I was incredibly passionate about sports and growing a small business.  I started mowing lawns at a young age.  That mowing then turned into landscaping, tree care and even snow removal.  Well, wouldn’t you know it that our church needed help with those things.  Thankfully someone invited me in to help around the church and the impact of that service was exponentially bigger than any paycheck.  I also discovered that helping people who I worked for, especially older people, made a difference.  These passions grew into more than just a business, it propelled me into understanding my purpose.  So what are you passionate about?

2.  Who is in front of me?

When you ask the question – “Who is in front of me?” you are essentially taking the time to be aware of your surroundings and not miss the opportunities right in front of you.

So often we miss the present opportunity because we don’t like the packaging.

Who is currently in your sphere of influence?  Who is in your neighborhood that God has uniquely placed in front of you?  Who is at the next cubicle?  Once you know who is in front of you…pray for them.

3.  What can I do today?

For years I’ve wanted to accomplish great things.  I want to change the world and all that crazy stuff.  Maybe you too!  But as I grow older I’ve learned that you have to start today and stop looking for the silver bullet.  Andy Stanley, a pastor in Atlanta, Georgia once said:

Do for one what you want to do for everyone!

I love that because it reminds me that while I can’t change everything and I can’t help everyone, I can do something.  Start today!

I share all of this with you because I know that it is a struggle for me to understand God’s plans and my purpose.  However, I know that He has created us for incredible things. Maybe these questions can help us all!

1.7.18 Two

 

There Is Something More – Three Questions To Ask Yourself About Purpose!

No Words!

I woke up at 5:45 am, about 15 minutes before normal.  I staggered out to the kitchen, made some coffee and sat down where I read every morning.  As I sat down I thought, “maybe I’ll turn on the news since I have an extra 15 minutes”.

I did.

I watched

I wept

I can’t get that sound out of my head and I’m guessing if you watched much video from the violent actions of one man in Las Vegas, you won’t soon forget that sound either.

Now, sitting under the weight of the fact that I lead other people and I aim to use my life to influence as many people as possible…I have very few words.  The only clear thoughts I have right now are these:

Love your neighbor as yourself and start right now.  We aren’t guaranteed another day and we don’t know what is going on in the lives of others.

If you are a Christ follower – pour yourself into the ministry of your local church, because the church is aiming at heart and life change through Jesus and that is the only solution I really know right now for the chaos of our world.

Other than that, for right now, I have no words!

vegas

No Words!