what matters

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

Been away from here the last couple days, but now I’m back.  Let’s continue this series shall we?  Last year I wrote a “looking forward” kind of post for some of the things I hoped to accomplish, change in the coming year.  This year I’m writing a series of post reflecting on that list and what happened in 2010.  Here’s the next item on the list that I wrote:

I’m going to continue working on being a great Dad and husband to my family…if I fail at that, then it doesn’t matter what else I succeed at.

What happened:

A work in progress!  I think I’m not doing too bad, but I know I could always do better.  One of the hardest things for me in the past year was balancing my time.  Between my full time job at my church, the freelance work I did, and my work on Organize Series, it’s been a challenge spending the quality time needed to be a good husband and father.  I know I could have done better – correction: I know I MUST do better.  Why? Because it’s one of the few things that really matters.

There are some things I’m doing to get better at this and I’ll hopefully write a blog post about it at some point.  But for now, I’d love to hear from you, my readers about what you do to make sure you are investing quality time for the things that really matter in your life?  So let me hear it in the comments!

Catalyst Day One – Rob Bell

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

Rob Bell was the first catalyst speaker to begin his session by opening in prayer.  I’m not saying that is necessarily a fault of all the other speakers but it WAS something that stood out for me.  It was an invitation for the Holy Spirit to be at work in and through him as he spoke to us and I do believe God answered his prayer.

Here’s a few things that stood out for me:

I was recently talking to a pastor who said he wanted to quit…. So I asked him to draw a pie chart of what he does every week. He had been a pastor for a year and wanted to quit every day…. So I asked if he practiced Sabbath.

Umm  yeah, there was silence in the auditorium after that statement.  Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time it’s been said or asked.  There’s gounds of speakers and writers that have promoted the teaching of the sabbath and yet when Rob asked that question you could still feel the conviction in the room.  I know I make my best effort to take my day off as my day off but lately I’ve been slipping on that.  When you skip the sabbath, then motivation and energy skips you.  Sabbath is important.

Is bigger better?

Another simple question that really we all know the answer to (well at least we know what the answer should be!) but once again by posing this simple question Rob unveiled an attitude that still needs dealt with.  Rob shared from John 6 where Jesus gave some expectations and some people chose to leave; he shared from Luke 21 about the story of the widow who gave all she had vs. the rich people who gave much but really were giving little.  What a paradox that in the eyes of Jesus what was more really wasn’t more and what was less was actually more.  The way God measures things isn’t the way we measure things!

Something else that stood up for me was when Rob started sharing about the 10 commandments (Exodus 20).  He highlighted that the first 9 commandments all deal with external things.  Things that if not followed provide ample easy evidence of them not being followed.  However, the 10th commandment is internal – there’s really no way for anybody to know whether someone has broken that commandment (outside of God that is!).  Here was Rob’s point, the 10th commandment is a “reward” – what that means is that if you follow the first 9 rules then you won’t have a problem with the 10th because you won’t want anyone else’s life!  You will be completely enthralled with the life God has given you in Him.

Another statement that really impacted me:

If you have a burden of feeling like you have not accomplished enough, God wants to set you free from that. Jesus wants you to simply enjoy the place that you are at and the work that is in front of you.

If I’m honest with myself this is one area that I really need to be set free from.  I’m a perfectionist.  I’m the kind of guy that when I get started on something important (or at least what I think is important) I tackle it like a bulldog and won’t let go.  Part of the reason I’m that way is because I have always had this niggling little thought in the back of my mind that I haven’t accomplished enough.  There’s always something else I need to do.  When Rob said this I almost started bawling.  The Holy Spirit did something significant in my life through that statement as I released that burden.  It’s a statement that’s going to stick with me for a long time and I’m sure something that I’ll be reminding myself in the days ahead as I’m tempted to take up that thought again.

Another area that really hit home was this statement:

Our children pick up on what really matters to us without us saying a word.

To really grasp the significance of what that means Rob set it up by asking the following questions,

Does your spouse get your very best, or does your spouse get what is left over from the church? Do your kids get your very best, or do they get the scraps?

Ouch!  Again, you could feel the conviction in the air and once again I felt the lock fall off the gate between what I knew in my mind and what I felt in my heart.  It forced me to recognize the scraps I’ve been feeding my family.  And it created a determination in me for that to stop.  It forced me to shudder at what my kids think what really matters to me.  And it challenged me to change that.

There has been much controversy over some of the things Rob Bell has said and written, but in this session God spoke through him and hit me to the core.  Do any of these statements or questions impact you?

For more perspectives on Rob Bell’s session you can check out:

Catalyst 2009 – Labs

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009

Take Action!Thanks to a wonderful church family who believe in supporting their pastors in growing as leaders I was able to attend Catalyst 2009 (link takes you to Catalyst Backstage – a great way to follow what’s happening) this year.  I am so grateful – thanks friends!

Today was the day for the “Labs” sessions here at Catalyst.   They are called that because they are more concentrated sessions offered from a wide variety of speakers that you can choose from.   My mind was expanded today and my heart was stretched and I was inspired!  It was amazing.

I took tons of notes but here’s some takeaways that I want to highlight here (by the way, I was really hoping to post during the day but had little success in obtaining wireless access – dang company supplying access to the arena won’t take any of my credit cards {shrug}):

Perry Noble:

Perry was Perry.  I’ve never had a chance to hear him speak in person but let’s just say he has a way of saying things that dive through the veneer of superficiality and into your heart.  Perry spoke on “Four Convictions about Vision” and grabbed it from Acts 26.  Incidentally, I so appreciate Perry because while what everyone else said was good – Perry was the only one who you really got a sense started from the Bible and wrapped his message around it.  A great way to start the day.  Here’s some points:

  • When God calls you the steps He asks you to take on the journey aren’t easy.
  • Leadership continually takes us to uncomfortable places.
  • “Some people in the South don’t know the war’s over”
  • God has a sense of humor
  • God: “You got to be willing to let me take you into places that are incredibly uncomfortable”

Vision begins with an accurate view of Jesus

  • Before God gives us the plan we’ve got to buy into the person of Jesus
  • The church doesn’t have a resource problem the church has a Jesus problem – they don’t have an accurate view of who Jesus is!
  • We’re supposed to tell people who Jesus is not who we are!
  • Our job isn’t a social agenda
  • “I’m glad you want to save the earth but God is going to destroy it one day!”
  • Perry: “Our church does recycle”

Vision calls us to Action

  • When the alarm goes off its to propel us to action.
  • Is God setting off the alarm?  What am I doing about it?
  • Acts 26:16 – God is calling the church to action
  • Stop saying, “I’m just waiting on God” How arrogant?
  • God already made the first move 2000 years ago – God is waiting on us!  Challenging us to take action.
  • Are you using prayer as an excuse to procrastinate?
  • Jump!
  • Most of us know the change that we need to make but we’re to scared to make it.
  • What action has God called you to make
  • People leaving isn’t always a bad thing.
  • The church is called a body (so why are we so consumed with closing the back door…!) // You had to hear this point in person, take a minute to think about what Perry is saying here (the audience got it as soon as Perry mentioned the church is a body…)
  • Part of the cost of leadership is losing people.

Vision will impact me personally

  • Leaders must be willing to pay the price of pain in order to achieve.
  • God gives you vision in direct proportion to the pain you’re willing to endure.
  • Pain -> Resurrection -> Gain (What Jesus went through!)
  • “I appeared to you to appoint you as a servant…”
  • Two ways in which vision will impact you personally… 1.  I see it and 2. I feel it.
  • We don’t do everything, we do something.  He’ll reveal the vision.
  • Are we more into attendance than repentance?
  • If you pursue Jesus there are people who will hate you, blog about you and generally make life miserable for you.
  • Vision is going to cost you personally.

Vision will lead to Victory

  • Three things Perry doesn’t like (well he used a stronger term…): snakes, spiders and cats.
  • Acts 26:18
  • Stop talking about all that you don’t have and remember that you have the Holy Spirit and all that God has available to those who will go to reach people.
  • Stop using Noah as an excuse to stop evangelizing and reaching people for Jesus.
  • If God gives you a vision it will produce fruit.
  • God called the church to impact the world!!
  • Worship passionately, preach Jesus unapologetically, call people to repentance. The “formula” for Newspring’s success (Perry)

Reggie Joiner

Reggie spent most of his session focusing on on how the church needs to shift it’s thinking in the way we approach the family.   He emphasized the reality that it is family that influences us more than church.   He talked about how too often the church presents the image of what a perfect family looks like and presents that to the families.  The problem is that there are so many families that have situations and circumstances that are so far removed from that “picture” that they get discouraged and disillusioned and will never experience the relationship God wants to have with them in the midst of their families!

Reggie made the interesting point that God really never gives us a picture of an ideal family in scripture.   When you think about it, it’s true isn’t it?  In fact, you look at all the heroes of the Bible and you can’t find one of those heroes with a family life that God holds up as the ideal!

Reggie also blew me away with this statement, “Your calling as a leader should not be to get families to conform to a common picture. Your calling is not be build better families, or better church.  Your calling is to engage individuals, generation, into a relationship with the living God.”  Wow!  What a challenge!  And reminder.   He said, “Parents don’t need a better picture, they need a bigger story” and the story is the restoration and redemption God wants to do in and through parents in they’re own family.   Reggie said, “Never buy into the myth that you need to become the “right” kind of parent before God can use you in your children’s lives”

Another powerful statement that Reggie made was, “God doesn’t use perfect pictures, He uses broken people. God uses authentic, broken people in their stories and their messages. They are real.”  This led into one of the branding moments for me so far at Catalyst, it’s a phrase that I needed to hear and every ministry really needs to hear, “If I knew you the way you knew you, I would probably disqualify you from ministry – and vice versa – but GOD uses you”  How true!  That doesn’t mean that we become satisfied with the failures and cracks in our person but it does mean we don’t get stuck there!  God qualifies us based on our relationship to Him and our salvation in His Son.  The greatest work of God is what He does in and through broken people.

The rest of the day…

I attended a few other sessions and heard some great stuff but unfortunately my tinnitus started acting up and I struggled to concentrate.  Pray for me.  Those of you who know me well know I struggle from a ringing of the ears that is always there but sometimes gets louder.  When it gets louder, it hurts and it turns my thinking to mush.

Looking forward to tomorrow!