Posts Tagged ‘faith’

“When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.This was their song: “Saul has killed his thousand, and David his ten thousands!” This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice. Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:6-12)

Yes kids, this is a sad cautionary tale about a man who had it all and lost everything because he didn’t know who he was.

We can learn a lot from this king with an identity crisis.

Life is so much better when you know who you are.

Insecurity derails anointing.

Knowing who (and whose) you are helps you celebrate who others are.

Saul refuses to celebrate David and what he brings to the kingdom.

Insecurity and jealousy pollute his mind and contaminate his soul.

He gets caught up in the math and misses the moment.

“They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands.”

Keeping score makes him crazy.

He got so caught up in numbers that it caused him to focus only on what others had.

He lost sight of what he had lost.

Comparison kills.

Insecurity causes you to lose sight of what matters.

You start counting the wrong things.

David played the harp, but, Saul was so caught up in jealousy that he missed the song.

What was designed to soothe, instead scraped at his soul.

Insecurity causes you to stop hearing the music.

Saul picks up a spear and flings it, thinking he can pin his problem against the wall.

But,his problem isn’t in front of him, it’s within him.

Insecurity causes you to start hurling spears.

Fortunately, David knew who (and whose) he was.

After hopping out of the way, he refuses to pick up the spear and throw it back.

Knowing who (and whose) you are gives you excellent soul reflexes.

Insecurity makes your soul sluggish.

Insecurity causes you to lose everything good.

It leaves you suspicious, afraid, unsure.

Get it settled in your gut…

Who are you…whose are you.

Security in that opens the door wide open.

The shared victories are celebrated.

The music is sweeter.

The Spirit is present.

Life is good.

RACE DAY!!

Posted: May 25, 2015 in fizzy faith
Tags: , , ,

As I write this, race week in Charlotte has ended.
My amazing bride and I spent many hours at the race track.
It was a special kind of high octane awesome!
There really isn’t anything like a NASCAR race.
It is sport and spectacle.
It is a multi sensory experience.
It is people watching at it’s grandest scale.

I’m a huge NASCAR fan!

I haven’t always been, I used to think it was just some dude driving around in circles…ANOTHER left turn!

but then we moved to Charlotte and something happened.

I drove by the speedway.
I went to some race shops.
I talked to some really cool people who are in NASCAR.

I started to realize what a great big, really fun deal that it really is.

Then in a moment of oil stained destiny, I went to my first race.
It changed my life! Suddenly I was a believer!
the engines roared to life and they made my soul tickle.
There is nothing like it.
It isn’t just what is happening on the track.
It’s the smell of the car fumes, coors and corn dogs.
It’s the mullets and the muscle shirts.
It’s cheering on the drivers that you love and booing the drivers that You hate. (You GOT to have a favorite driver or things aren’t nearly as interesting!)
It’s the overpriced funnel cakes and watered down lemonade.
It’s the American flag reimagined as every POSSIBLE item of clothing.
It’s super short jean shorts on women AND men.
It’s fat sweaty guys who suddenly feel the need to go shirtless.
it all combines to become a beautiful big slice of MURICA!
It’s a big ole redneck wonderland and I love it!!

With all of the redneck trappings, you could easily lose sight of something…

NASCAR is as much science as sport.

NASCAR is not hardly as simple as it might seem.

I’ve got some really cool friends who work in every aspect of NASCAR, as they have shared their stories I’ve listened.

As I’ve learned about the science of stock car, I realized that faith is a lot like a race.

There was a guy in the Bible who wrote a big chunk of the New Testament who thought the same thing!

His name was Paul.
I’m pretty sure, if he were running around today, he would be a serious race fan.
He wrote a lot about racing.
I think Paul was a redneck.
He might have even owned a muscle shirt.
He probably had some jean shorts and a truckers cap.
He talked a lot about races and he compared them to the life of faith.

At the end of his life, our redneck buddy, Paul wrote:
2 Timothy 4:7: “I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept believing.”

Paul is gonna be our spiritual crew chief the next few minutes.
We are going to look at some stuff that he wrote, and let him give us a little pep talk about how to run our race.

First, get in the race.
You have to run your own race. You can’t depend on a parent, grandparent or spiritual adviser to run for you.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize!” (1 Cor. 9:24)
Get behind the wheel, don’t be a spectator, that’s boring!
You are meant to run your own race!
I’ve stolen a glance into a lot of race cars, none of them had kid car seats in the back.
There are no ride alongs in the race of faith.
You run your own race or you don’t run at all.
You start the engine by simply choosing to follow Jesus.
Then hit the gas and chase him!
A pace car sets the speed and direction.
Jesus is our pace car.
Keep your eyes on where He is going and follow him.

Next NASCAR lesson: It takes a team to run for an owner.
During the race, one person usually gets all the attention, the driver.
But, racing is not about one driver. There is a huge team, most of whom are never seen.
Some are at the track, some at the garage. They all contribute.
There is a team owner, who has paid the price and made arrangements so the team can run.
Then, there are crew chiefs and car chiefs, gas men and tire changers.
(I’ve always been a bit of a gas man.)
I have a friend who builds brakes, you probably won’t see him on TV, but the cars aren’t going anywhere without his brakes. His job is as important as the drivers.
It’s a TRUE team sport.
Everyone has a role to play.
God is our team owner. He made it possible for us to get in the car. He paid the price.
We are part of a team, the church. It’s not a perfect team, but it is God’s perfect plan.
There are no lone wolves.
Everyone has a role to play.
Discover your role.

During the race, there is a real important guy who usually sits on top of the grandstands so he can see the entire speedway.
He is the spotter.
He can see things that the driver can’t.
He sees what is around turn four.
He is in constant communication with the driver. He tells him what is going on, what to expect, and how to handle situations.
The driver has to choose to listen and do what the spotter is telling him.
Sometimes, it’s something that he has to instantly respond to, like a wreck.
It requires the ability to listen, trust and respond.
In the race of faith, we have a spotter…the Holy Spirit.
He knows what is around the bend, He sees things we don’t.
He is in constant communication with us…it’s usually a still small voice.
Listen to your spotter, Trust, respond.
He knows what is going on around you, what is around the next turn.
Stay in constant communication!

Don’t break the rules.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “if someone competes as an athlete, he won’t win the race if he breaks the rules.” (2 Tim. 2:5)
NASCAR has rules about everything from the size of engine parts to the height of bumpers to when the crew members can jump over the wall. If you break the rules, you can get penalized or forfeit, If you break the rules you will get disqualified!
The good thing is that Jesus makes HIS rules pretty clear and simple: love God, love your neighbor as yourself.
Don’t forfeit!!

The driver wears a super colorful fire suit.
This gives them a chance for some serious product placement.
It also can save their life…that’s a big deal.
It protects them from fire.
It probably isn’t always comfortable. But it can save their life.
What they clothe themselves with makes all the difference.
I’ve never seen a driver choose to wear pajamas instead of a fire suit.
Well, guess what? Jesus is your fire suit.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:14)
If you put on the righteousness of Christ, He protects you from getting burned…that’s a big deal.
It’s not about your ability to get it right that keeps you safe. It’s not about how good YOU are. It’s about putting on the RIGHTness of Jesus. THAT is what protects You!

Drivers have to pay attention to the instruments on their dashboard.
They tell them when things are getting overheated or about to blowup.
Life can get overheated sometimes.
We can blow up.
It helps if we are paying attention to our spiritual dashboard.
The fruit of the Spirit is our instrument panel.
The fruit needs to be our Filter.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
There is no law against these things, there is no penalty when you check yourself with the fruit of the spirit.
When you use them as a dashboard for how you act, speak, treat others.
Ask yourself, “Am I operating out of love, joy and peace? Am I patient and kind? Am I good, faithful and gentle? Am I practicing self control?”
You can’t overheat if you are living the fruit of the spirit.

Don’t get wrecked.
Your opponent is a cheater.
He is trying to take you down.
He races dirty.
He hates the owner and he knows he can hurt the owner by taking out drivers.
Don’t let him wreck you!
Our redneck buddy Paul: “you were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.”
The best racers turn opposition into fuel. They don’t let the haters get into their head.
Don’t get wrecked. Don’t listen to the lies. Don’t fall for the tricks.

Don’t quit. There are drivers who have made a career out of being “start and park” drivers.
they start with no intention to finish and no desire to win.
They just show up. They do the bare minimum to get paid, but they don’t want to take any risks.
Don’t be that guy!
Sometimes, it would be tempting to pull over and park. Don’t do it. Run like your life depends on it, because it does!
Our redneck buddy Paul: “May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist.” (Galatians 6:9)

One last lap…
One of the coolest things to get when you go to a race is a hot pass.
It gives you access to the pits and the garage and everything.
You get up close to the crew and drivers, it’s pretty cool.
We had one this week and it was like a golden ticket. We would walk up to place where others couldn’t go and we got instant access.
We only got a hot pass because of who we knew.
We have an awesome friend who hooked us up.
Otherwise, we would have been standing outside of the gate, unable to get in.
Here’s one really cool thing about getting up close and personal with God. Jesus is our hot pass!
Our redneck buddy Paul: Eph. 2:18: “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have instant access to the owner.

WOW! Days of thunder become days of wonder.

If our redneck buddy Paul were here, I think he would straighten his #18 trucker cap, look you in the eye, grin and say “STEP ON IT SON…or…um…DAUGHTER!!”

fear is for the birds.

Posted: April 13, 2015 in fizzy faith
Tags: , , , ,

Brace yourself…I want to share one of the most frightening episodes of my childhood.

To my preteen mind it was gut wrenching terror….

When I was growing up, I walked out every day to get the mail.

that probably doesn’t seem like a big scary deal.

But, we had a huge front yard, so it was a good little walk.

AND right in the middle of the yard there was a bird house.

When I was about 9 years old, a blue jay with an attitude problem moved into the bird house.

That blue jay hated me.

For some unknown reason that bird had a personal vendetta against me.

When I would go out to get the mail, it would dive bomb me.

I would just be walking through the yard and here it would come.

It was viciously flying towards my head.

I had a wild imagination and I had seen the Hitchcock movie, “The Birds”.

I was pretty sure that this bird wanted to eat parts of my face, or at the very least, nest in my hair. (This was when, I DID have hair)

I would frantically run from the blue jay assassin while screaming like a girl.

I might have wet myself once.

It wasn’t my finest moment.

Sometimes it takes real courage just to go outside!

I was afraid to go into my front yard.

I was bullied by a bird.

My Dad gave me one of his super inspiring pep talks, “WHAT? Are you kidding me? don’t be a baby, it’s just a little bird!”

My much more supportive Mom gave me a hug and a fly squatter.

I took a deep breath and opened the front door.

I looked my fear in the face and it was flapping.

And it was smaller than me.

I mustered all of my shaky strength and I frantically waved the fly swatter and made some strange guttural noises. This didn’t really scare the bird as much as confuse it.

Sometimes that’s a pretty good strategy: live in a way that confuses the things that scare you.

I also found a different route to the mailbox. I walked out of my way to avoid the bully bird.

The best strategy was to take a friend…my dog. My body guard was a beagle.

Eventually seasons changed and the bird went away.

Seasons change and if you don’t feed the fear it goes away or dies.  

Sometimes it takes real courage just to go outside!

Maybe your bully isn’t a bird, it’s something else.

You can get through the yard!

You can do it!

We get scared of things that others laugh at.

It doesn’t seem like a scary thing to other people.

It doesn’t make our fear any less real.

We only think Fear is irrational when it’s someone else’s.

The yard can be a scary place.

You got to stare down your flapping fear.

you might find that it’s smaller than you.

go outside…

You can do it.

Maybe you need to step out into the front yard.

Maybe you need to find a different route.

Maybe you need a fly squatter or to shout.

Realize that seasons change, don’t feed your fear and it probably won’t stick around.

The best strategy is always to take a friend with you.

The bigger the better!

Here’s a promise from the biggest friend of all…

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Sometimes it takes real courage just to go outside!

Find that courage in the fact that you aren’t going alone.  

I’ve always been fascinated with airplanes and flight.

The ability to leave the earth behind captured my imagination.

Much to the chagrin of my very practical Dad, I spent a lot of time growing up with my head in the clouds. I always wanted to get on a plane and crack the clouds. But, sadly it took me a while to get my feet off the ground.

In elementary school a lot of my friends got to fly. They would come back to school and tell us how great it was…there were peanuts and window seats and turbulence and blue water in the bathroom. They had been transported to magical places like Cleveland and Omaha.

BUT, the single coolest thing was when they visited the cockpit.

They got to meet the PILOT!!! Who, it seems, was always a tall, handsome man named Captain Dan who smoked a pipe. He saluted them and welcomed them in a deep, manly voice. They saw the instruments, dials and controls.

BUT, the crowning cockpit moment was when Captain Dan gave them some super cool plastic wings!

THEY GOT WINGS!!! I couldn’t stand it!

They were part of a club that I wasn’t! The club of people with wings!

They wore those wings to school with an authoritative swagger.

The wings made a powerful statement. They said “I have left the ground, I have flown and I have the wings to prove it!”

MAN!!! I ALWAYS wanted those wings.

The problem was that the first time I ever flew I was 18. It would have been a little awkward to go into the cockpit looking for wings.

But, MAN! I wanted some wings!

Because I knew something… Wings are wonderful things.

They take us places.

There was a time when people lived their entire lives with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Then on December 17, 1903, two brothers from Ohio, with no formal engineering training, neither even had a High School diploma, defied gravity in a crazy looking flying machine over the dunes of the North Carolina outer banks.

They discovered Wings! They took off. They left the world behind.

We were born to fly. We were meant to go to unimaginable places and defy gravity.

You were born to be a charter member of the club of people with wings.

The Engineer of eternity wired us to fly and HE gives us wings.

Isaiah 40:31 says: “those who trust in the Lord will find new strength, they will soar high on wings like eagles.”

Here are our flight instructions: Trust God and get wings.

Trusting isn’t always easy, but evidently it’s necessary flight training.

Want wings? Trust God, wait on Him, listen to Him.

We need to learn to trust in God because He is our air traffic controller.

He sees things that we don’t. He creates conditions. He knows the exact right time to take off.

He gives us wings. Those wings give us the unnatural ability to defy gravity. The ability to soar above situations.

Airplane wings are strong. They hold the entire weight of the plane PLUS the stress put on them by turbulence and control forces. BUT airplane wings will eventually fail if over stressed.

The Wings that God gives us will never fail. They are spiritual and not bound by the laws of physics.

God gives us wings.

They give us the unnatural ability to soar over anything.

We have the supernatural ability to withstand any turbulence in life. That’s good because there will be turbulence, the winds will howl. Things are gonna get bumpy.

Please fasten your seatbelts and return your tray table to its full upright position… And trust your wings! They will take you places. Wings take you places that you can’t get to on foot or by car. God gives you supernatural wings that take you to unimaginable places and help you do things that you could never do in your own strength.

God gives us wings.

He is the air traffic controller AND the pilot. He gives us wings and he gives us our own unique flight pattern.

We don’t work to get our wings, we trust.

In elementary school, the only thing my flying friends had to do to get their wings from Captain Dan was walk on board! They just got to know the pilot. He gave them wings.

It’s the same with us. You can’t grow wings. They can only be given to you.

Get to know the pilot. He has a custom made set of wings for you. Wings take you places.

You were born to fly. You were designed to defy gravity. God will give you wings. You will soar above.

Don’t let anybody or anything clip your wings. We do that. We listen to the critics, to the ones who have never left the ground themselves.

The Wright brothers had a lot of people telling them that they would never fly. They didn’t allow the haters to clip their wings. They did what had never been done. You get to do the same thing.

Don’t get grounded by fear, doubt or insecurity. Don’t get grounded by comparing your flight plan to someone else’s. You were born to go to starry, faraway places…places that can only be reached if you have wings!

Wings are wonderful things!

BIG thanks to my pilot friend, Rich Wenzel, who gave me some great insight into leaving the ground behind.

We all have that crazy claim to fame. Our brush with semi-greatness that we like to bring up in conversation. You know what I’m talking about…”I was in an elevator with William Shatner” or “My kid plays soccer with Dale Earnhardt’s grandson” or “I know a guy who knows a guy who once detailed Kelly Clarkson’s car.” We like to name drop! It lets people know that we must be a big deal because we have brushed shoulders with the sometimes rich and marginally infamous.

I must confess, I’ve been guilty of this . I have a few fairly strange brushes with big that i wear like feathers on my hat. Stand back while I drop a few names…
It all goes back to that one time when my grandpa introduced me to Johnny Lee Wills at his rodeo ( he was the kid brother of Bob Wills and a big deal in Tulsa in the seventies) I was smitten with the claim to fame game.
Since then…
I’ve met Chuck Norris (he called my daughter sweetheart, which gave her eternal street cred).
I talked on the phone with Don Henley while he was at a wiggles concert.
I ran a go cart ride for Clay Aiken.
My wife and I babysat for Lisa Whelchel’s kids once.
I stood on a miniature golf course with a 6 ft. 9 in. tall Basketball player, Tyler Hansbrough. I’m 5 ft. 1 in tall, so it was already a strange sight, but, together, we watched a snake eat a frog…seriously, it was magical.
And, in a photo op gone horribly awkward with another very tall man, I once touched Mitch Kupchak’s butt.
And those are only a few.
These are fun to talk about.
When someone mentions their celebrity brush we usually ask them the same question: “were they a GOOD person?” Like, somehow our seven second encounter qualifies us to judge their character.
We like our encounters with greatness.
We get nervous, we get butterflies about the possibility of watching Beyoncé walk by on a red carpet.
But what if we got a brush with TRUE greatness? I’m not talking about Kanye.
I was thinking about this and it dawned on me that every second of every day I have a chance to, not only encounter greatness, but live there!
I have access to the Maker and Maintainer of all things.
I get to live in relationship with God!
He is the biggest deal of all and I have His attention.
I get the constant opportunity to have a brush with His greatness AND glory.
A daily dose of divinity.
I’m pretty sure I could never get a meeting with the president. The governor won’t take my calls. Even the mayor is too busy to hang out. BUT, the King of the Universe is constantly and completely available to me.
The Creator is both infinite and intimate!
It’s not a one time random encounter either.
I don’t just rub shoulders with God, He promises to take up residence with me and in me!
The Holy Spirit lives in me.
That is a very big deal.
I get to share space with the Creator of space!
And yes, I’ve met him and found Him to be very GOOD.
AND, when it comes to name dropping the only name that has any eternal muscle is Jesus.

Yesterday I watched a flight attendant trying to do her job.

She was trying to go over the safety instructions and nobody was listening…evidently they had heard it all before.

She was standing up and giving life saving info and most people were completely ignoring her. Some people were just disengaged others were completely disrespectful. I could see the discouragement on her face.

The cologne drenched salesman in 17C had heard it all before and was loudly talking about quarterly goals with his buddy. There was a dude wearing skinny jeans and a zippered sweater who had his headphones drowning out the noise with loud dubstep music. There was a couple who were too busy flirting to notice anyone around them.

Through it all, the young flight attendant made her announcements about flotation devices.

I could relate to her, I feel the same frustration.

As a youth pastor, I often find myself in front of a crowd who are not interested in the life saving story that I’m trying to tell.

Maybe, it’s my delivery.

Maybe, they have heard it before.

Maybe, they are more interested in the people around them.

Maybe, you have experienced the same thing.

You want to help, but you aren’t being heard.

Some flight attendants try to change it up a bit. They add some humor, do some (mostly polite) hand gestures or talk in a fake accent. That  helps! It’s always better to tell the story in your style. Be passionate. Be creative. We should be constantly finding new ways to tell our stories.

but, there are always going to be some people who think they have heard it all.

Maybe…just maybe, if they know it all, they should help, get out of seat 17C and start pointing their fellow travelers toward the exit row.

Okay, I’m done with my rant, now in preparation for landing please return your seat backs and tray tables to their original position.

 

There is a not so subtle difference between ninjas and newscasters.

Ninjas are all about doing their job in secret.

Newscasters broadcast everything.

Ninjas are all about the mission.

They don’t care who gets the credit.

Newscasters are all about the byline.

We have a mission. it’s a simple mission.

be loved and love.

know and make known.

do good. be kind. serve. leave a mark.

along with the mission we have a choice.

ninja or newscaster…who will you be?

newscaster…

When you announce to every one what YOU are doing, you are choosing to receive your reward in the here and now.

“I gave…I served…I blessed…I helped”

kudos to you. you are a wonderful person. we recognize your service.

BUT, God tells us when you do something for me…make it about me…nobody has to know….because I know and that is what matters.

the Bible even says don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

that is pretty ninja!

Don’t turn your acts of serve into a checklist or a pat on the back.

When you announce what you have done it ceases to be serve and becomes self.

Be ninja!

there is something cool and mysterious about ninja love.

it is all about making other people famous.

be ninja!