Tag Archives: City On A Hill Church

The Champ is Here!

The goal of today’s blog is to push back against depression and discouragement.  I want to encourage us to push through the oppression that seeks to rob us of our motivation, steal our joy, kill our dreams and destroy our future.  My hope is that we will all discover the champion within.  My hope is that we stand up against these bullies whose sole purpose is to convince us that we are losers who don’t have what it takes.  My conviction is that we will stand in the face of adversity and fight to live the life God has called us to live holding unswervingly to the hope that we profess in Jesus’ victory over satan, sin and death.  Through Christ’s victory He has made us champions we are more than conquerors!  So the next time we face a formidable foe looking to dethrone a champion we will boldly proclaim, The Champ is here!

You may say this all sounds well and good but how?  I don’t feel like a champion.  I don’t feel like a winner.  I feel like giving up and giving in.  My friends we all do at different times.  I want to give you a game plan or a fighting strategy to help transform us into champions.  All of this is by God’s amazing grace of course.

Here we go!

# 1 Change Our Focus – The first step is changing our FOCUS.  We must discipline ourselves to focus on our goals and what can be achieved not our failures and what hasn’t been achieved.

Philippians 3:15-16 (MSG)  15-16So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

One of the biggest reasons that we never achieve our goals is that we lose focus.  Usually failure is a result of losing focus and not seeing the bigger picture.  Nothing is impossible if we set a goal and put our concentrated focus on achieving that goal.

# 2 Our Decisions Define Our Future – We have to keep in mind that everyday we face critical decisions.  These decisions most often define our future.  These decisions are also shaped by what we truly believe.  Deciding what we believe is paramount to our decision making process which ultimately shapes our future.

John 8:30 (MSG) 30When he put it in these terms, many people decided to believe.

No decision is a decision.  Deciding not to act is a decision.  Think about it in every day life.  We can decide to better ourselves through higher education, starting a ministry, making a difference, who we allow to influence us, what we believe or don’t believe about faith,  who we put our faith in and the list goes on and on.  All of these decisions define us and determine our future.  Conversely we can also decide not to act and live a life filled with excuses.

# 3 Raise the Bar – I challenge everyone to Raise the Bar in your life!  Champions pursue excellence daily.

Isaiah 33:15-16 (MSG) 15-16The answer’s simple: Live right, speak the truth, despise exploitation, refuse bribes, reject violence, avoid evil amusements. This is how you raise your standard of living! A safe and stable way to live. A nourishing, satisfying way to live.

The gut level truth is that if you have major changes that we want to make in our lives it is going to require us to rise the bar. We must set high standards for ourselves.  Here is another hard truth, “In life you get what you are willing to accept and what you teach yourself to expect.”  If we teach ourselves to be average guess what we will be? You got it average!  I have heard it said, “Good is the enemy of great and the friend of average.” As champions in Christ let’s raise the bar in every area of our lives.

# 4 Give Big Energy to Big Things, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Be sure to give your time and energy to what matters most!  Don’t Major in the Minors.

Matthew 6:34 (MSG) 34Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Go big or go home:)  Don’t get caught up in little things that don’t amount to a hill of beans.  Give your life, time and energy to doing something bigger than you!  Pick a fight with a giant you can’t defeat without God’s help.  Choose an adventure that you can’t accomplish without God’s help.  Live by the philosophy if anybody can do it than let them!  Give me something nobody else can or wan ts to do this way God gets greater glory and we get a life well lived to the glory of God!  Life it is too awesome and we were meant for so much more to get caught up majoring in the minors!

# 5 Convert Our Knowledge Into Practical Actions – Don’t just possess knowledge put what you know into practice.

Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG) 8-9Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

The brutal truth is that most of us know everything we need to know to live the life we want to live and the life God has planned for us to live.  In order to live like champions we must be able to convert knowledge into action.  We are going to have to trust that we know what to do and then do it with all our hearts.  Obtaining knowledge isn’t enough.  Putting what we know into practice will allow us to live like champions and resist the temptation and schemes employed by our adversaries to bring us down in defeat.

# 6 Follow the Leader – Great Leaders are Great Followers.  Learn to follow.  Be wise when you choose who you will follow because whoever you are following is definitely leading you somewhere.

Matthew 8:22 (MSG) 22Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.”

We must make it our goal to find mentors to lead us to places they have been and places we’ve never been.  We must also be sure that the way they got there is a way that is pleasing to God and their practices measure up to the scriptures.

We cannot lead well until we learn how to follow well.  Following requires trust, humility and character.  Proverbs 14:28 teaches us that the mark of a good leader is loyal followers and leadership is nothing without a following.  It is critical that we be someone worth following.  The greatest way I have ever found to become someone worth following is by following Jesus.

As I sit here today I point to my heart and state with conviction, “If the Champ (Jesus) is here then I can confidently say no matter where my feet touch, The Champ is here!”

Now that we have this knowledge what shall we do?  Focus, Decide, Raise the Bar, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Put Knowledge Into Practice, and Be a loyal follower!  If we can do these things we will shake off depression, destroy discouragement, abolish oppression and live the life of a champion!  Find a place right now where you can see your reflection and state, The Champ is here!  Be encouraged!

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Titanic Question

Recently I was making a hospital visit to a man who had a stroke the night before.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I was going there to be a blessing and to bring some encouragement and hope through prayer and a Psalm.  I arrived there and he was sitting up in bed drinking some juice.  We shared for a few minutes.  The news he had received wasn’t very good at all.  He seemed strangely at peace with the news and his station in life.  I was encouraged, he was encouraged we prayed then talked a few more minutes and I said my good bye and began to leave.  As I was leaving a man in the bed next to his was staring straight at me.  The man looked like Hemingway, very distinguished with a white beard and stern look.  As I was walking out of the room he broke his silence and asked in a strong voice, “Are you a preacher?”  I looked him in the eye and said, “Yes sir I am.”  He stared back at me with that same stern look and asked firmly, “Do you really believe everything in that book?, as he pointed to my bible.  I replied firmly but gently with conviction, “Yes sir I do.”  He then asked with a hint with a hint of skepticism, “Do you really believe in Jesus?”  I replied , “Absolutely!”  Then he asked me a simple yet Titanic question, “Why?”  He went on aggressively, “Give me one reason or one verse from that book that makes you believe.”  What a question!  What a challenge!  I have walked with Jesus for over twenty years.  I have been to seminary and yet this Titanic question still loomed over me.  I thought to myself, “If I am struggling under the weight of this Titanic question how many that I shepherd and lead will struggle too?”  I looked him in the eyes and I was filled with compassion for him.  I had no idea why he was in the hospital.  I thought maybe this is the end and he is facing eternity.  I shared with him, “Sir I will offer you my testimony as my subjective experience coupled with the objective evidence of this book (The Gospel), pointing to the Bible, and the testimony of the living God through His Holy Spirit working in and through my life.”  He pushed back, “Give me one verse in that book that proves Jesus is who he said He was.”  I replied, “Sir I cannot just give you one verse I offer this whole book from cover to cover as a testimony along with the testimony human history coupled with the power of personal faith as proof.  I offer you my personal testimony of a changed life as evidence for the faith I profess and possess.”  The man offered me a huge grin and said, “Young man I have walked with Jesus since I was seven years old.  You have answered well.  I want to give you a verse from the Bible as to why I believe.  May I?”  I replied, “Please.”

Titus 1:1-3 1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,  in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

He shared with me that this verse says that God cannot lie and is faithful to keep everything that He has promised.  He went on to tell me that his faith has rested safely on these verses for 58 years of ministry.  Then he shared with me his vocation for the past 15 years, which lead me to name this blog Titanic question.  For the past 15 years he has been employed by the Titanic Exhibit traveling worldwide playing Captain Edward Smith and offering tours of the exhibit.  The catch is that during his tours he shares the story of Pastor John  Harper, The Titanic’s Last Hero , a preacher from Scotland who spent his last hours preaching the Gospel offering salvation to those on the Titanic.  He told me he had shared this story in countries around the world and looks at his time touring with the Titanic exhibit as his primary ministry.  We spent about 30 minutes talking and praying together.  I found out that he had a massive blood clot in his lung he was trusting God to dissolve.  He had been in the hospital for six days and was hoping to return to the exhibit soon.  He also shared that he wondered why he was in the hospital he thought perhaps it was to witness to those in the bed next to him.  I shared with him that he had ministered to me and challenged me greatly with his Titanic question.  As I walked out of the hospital room that day I knew my focus had been and will continue to be laser pointed.  It is all about Jesus, it has always been about Jesus and it will always be about Jesus.  The most simple yet Titanic questions a believer that can be asked must be answered and communicated effectively.  Do you believe everything in that book?  Do you really believe in Jesus?  Why?  Think about that right now, if you are a believer.  If someone asked you these three Titanic question right now what would be your answer?  Here is what I know, we must be ready because we never know when those questions are going to come.  I sure didn’t think they would come from a man I didn’t know laying in a hospital bed as I departed the room.  If you can’t answer these question for yourself I encourage you spend the time discovering why you believe what you believe.  Explore your faith.  Ask yourself the hard questions.  Use the Gospel and the leading of the Holy Spirit and your testimony and human history as evidence for your faith or to build your faith.

2 Timothy 4:1-3 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

I will leave you with one thought.  The man smiled at me and said he shares this thought with people often, “Eternity is too long to be wrong.”  Be encouraged!

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Take a Seat: Helping People Find Rest

Mark 6:31 (ESV) And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

We are in year three of our church plant and we have hit the ground running and never stopped, never looked back and never came up for air.  We are been hard grinding, winning souls, bringing wanderers home, making disciple making disciples, sending missionaries, impacting our city and advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every week we set up and tear down our whole church.  We have been setting up and tearing down now for 109 weeks.  It definitely takes it’s toll on our team.  Luckily for many we have put together schedules so that every person isn’t working every week.  Some want to work weekly and that is okay however, as a leader there is a time when we have to ask them to take a seat.  This is where we really find out what is more important people or program.  This is where we find out if we are a part of an organism, a living, breathing, growing, vibrant life form or an organization with mechanical structure.  Asking key people to take a seat isn’t easy and will never be easy however, it is absolutely necessary.  It is necessary for numerous reasons.  I’ll name two key reasons.  First it let’s the people know you love them for who they are not what they do and secondly it allows them to see the ministry will go forward without them.  It teaches them to trust in God not only in themselves as if we can’t make it without them.  Will the quality drop a bit?  Most likely, not always but there is a good chance.  What is more important program or people?  Jesus told his disciples come away with me, take a seat, and rest for a while because there were people pulling on them and they didn’t even have time to eat.  Church planting, ministry and life in general can have that same effect.  We must force ourselves to take a seat and we must force those who won’t take a seat to take a seat even if it hurts them.  In the long run you are helping them and you are helping your body of believers.  You are also setting an example of what is more important.  It is a difficult thing to do and sometimes it can be viewed as a negative.  This view must be changed.  It is a positive because it creates healthy practices and in the end will allow people to live out their full potential and have longevity in ministry.  Watching the NBA is a strong reminder of asking people to take a seat.  Sometimes it is because they get into foul trouble.  Sometimes in ministry if people don’t take a seat they get into foul trouble.  Meaning their attitude becomes foul and they have a negative impact on others around them.  Then our whole church is in jeopardy of getting into foul trouble.  Another reason the NBA coaches ask key players to taker a seat is to be sure they can be ready to play the whole season, series and or season.  If players don’t get the right amount of bench time they get worn out and not just one game is in jeopardy their whole season and sometimes their career can be placed in jeopardy.  They can just get slam worn out before their time.  As leaders we must not be willing to sacrifice anyone.  Asking them to take a seat is what is best for them and ultimately for the whole.  Be watchful over the people God has placed in your life.  If you see they are weary ask them to take a seat.  If you see them getting weary ask them to take a seat.  If you notice they are burning the candle at both ends have them take a seat.  Even if you don’t notice them burning the candle still ask them to be sure they are taking a seat.  Let them lovingly know if they don’t take a seat you will help them take a seat because you love them that much.  By God’s grace I truly believe that the success we have enjoyed and the retention rate we have for two years and are currently experiencing is a result of good leadership throughout the church.  Leaders who care more about people than programs.  Be encouraged!

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