For Those Who Don’t Know It All Part 2

Last week I wrote a post entitled “For Those Who Don’t Know It All.” (Go ahead and read that post if you haven’t already done so. It will help this post make more sense.)

In it, I posed a simple question: “What if _______?” When you or I ask those 2 words followed by a specific instance in our own lives, it causes us to begin to wonder about the possibility of it actually happening or being true.

But the catch is this: we cannot simply stay at wonder. We have to move into wander.

I had some pushback on this idea of wander,” so let’s look at this word for a second.

Here are a few definitions from Merriam-Webster: “to move around or go to different places usually without having a particular purpose or direction;” “to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal;” “to go idly about;” “to ramble.”

Now maybe you are saying to yourself, “I don’t want to be purposeless or ramble, so why would I wander?”

Great question.

But here’s another question to consider that I posed in last week’s blog post:

“What if instead of thinking you had to have the perfect idea and plan of action, you allowed the wonder of your idea to compel you to wander into action?”

See, after having multiple conversations with various groups of people I’m convinced that those who are struggling with some aspect of their life are at one of two places. They’ve either never begun to wonder or they’re paralyzed by thinking they have to have all the answers or have a perfect plan of action.

If you’ve never asked the “What if____?” question, start there.

But if you have and you’re sitting still. If you’re paralyzed by not having all the answers or having a plan of action. Then start to wander.

Start trying out certain things that your wonder is calling you towards.

Let’s take two common examples: diet and faith.

“What if I went on a diet?” By asking that question, you are beginning to think about what your life could be like if you were healthier. You are compelled to do something about it. But then, the mountain seems too tall. The temptation is too real. The diet seems too rigid. So you don’t even try. But what if you just started wandering through different diets to find one that worked for you? What if you tried a few different ones for a couple weeks?

“What if there is a God?” By asking that question, you are beginning to think about the possibilities and implications of there being a higher power. You are compelled by it. But then, the countless number of world religions overwhelm you. The hypocrites that claim to be “religious” disappoint you. Bad things happen all around you making you angry at that potential God or at least causing you to doubt even more. But what if you started wandering through the claims of the major world religions? What if you began to examine whether or not they contradicted each other and if there was some historical reliability of certain faith’s claims?

See, wouldn’t you rather wander about and risk being called aimless, purposeless, a rambler, etc. instead of sitting still, becoming apathetic and doing nothing with your wonder? Doing nothing with your life?

I know I would.

Actually, I did.

And my wife, Rachel, did too. Maybe you can relate to her story.

If I can say so myself as her husband, Rachel is a very talented graphic designer. She didn’t major in graphic design in college and she sure didn’t have a plan for how she was going to get to where she is now before starting. But one day while volunteering at her local church, someone was talking about how they needed a design done. And Rachel must have said to herself, “What if I tried?” So you know what she did? She said to that staff person, “I’ll give it try.” Wonder led to wander. Her first design wasn’t that great. But it was the start of something. She loved it and was compelled to keep trying. More wonder led to more wandering which eventually led to a sustained plan of action. She now stays quite busy with clients doing graphic design work and absolutely loves it.

I can’t promise your wandering will lead to success. Characteristics like discipline and determination matter. And I’m not, nor would I ever, advocate a constant state of wandering. Certainly, you need to eventually figure out a sustained plan of action for your life and commit. But to get started, all you need to do is wander. And by wandering, you will find that sustained plan of action. But by sitting still, you never will.

Start wondering your way into wander today!

Advertisements

For Those Who Don’t Know It All

“What if?”

Have you ever asked that question in regards to some aspect of your life?

If you’ve already arrived and have no need to grow, then this blog post isn’t for you.

But I’m guessing you haven’t.

I know I haven’t.

So no matter who you are or where you are it’s one of the best questions you could ask yourself.

And you should ask it today.

A “What if?” question is pregnant with possibility.

Once you ask it, you’ll start to wonder.

“Could this really happen? Is this really possible? Wow, what life would be like if…”

Then you’ll quickly experience a tension. And it’s painful to wrestle with.

This tension is so strong that millions of dollars have been left on the table. Relationships that could have been haven’t. Businesses were never started. An invention never developed. A book never written. An apology never said. A difference never made. A God never explored.

It’s the tension between an idea and action

You don’t have to be brilliant or clever to stir up an idea. And you don’t have to be strong or disciplined to step into action.

You must only wonder your way into wander.

What if instead of thinking you had to have the perfect idea and plan of action, you allowed the wonder of your idea to compel you to wander into action?

Don’t worry about not having a detailed plan or a stellar track record in the past.

Simply wander into doing something about that possibility you sense.

Start walking.

Make some kind of move even if you don’t know why or what you’re doing. Even if it’s aimless.

Take a baby step in the direction you long to know more about or desire to be true for your life.

I don’t know the exact “What if?” question you should ask yourself. But below are several to give you an idea of some you could ask.

What if life’s not all about me?

What if I switched my college major?

What if I tried harder in school?

What if there’s more to life than living the American dream?

What if there is a God?

What if I could beat this addiction?

What if I was a better father?

What if I was a better husband?

What if I went on a diet?

What if I ran a marathon?

What if I wasn’t in debt?

What if I invited my neighbor over for dinner?

What if I wasn’t so empty inside?

What if I went for what I’ve always felt called to do?

What if I got a new job?

What if I apologized to my friend?

What if Jesus really is who he claimed to be?

What if __________?

So. What “What if?” question do you need to ask?

Don’t wait until tomorrow or 20 years from now.

Ask it today.

Begin to wonder.

Move into wander.

Then tell me a year from now how thankful you–and those who know you–are that you asked that simple question.

What if?

Where I’ve Been…And Why I’m Back

Maybe you’ve noticed. Maybe you haven’t. But I’ve not published a blog post since June 13th. And it’s killin’ me!

It’s the longest gap between posts I’ve had since I started blogging. And for good reason: I’ve been busy.

Busy with job responsibilities. Busy with family. Busy with traveling. Busy with weddings.

But who isn’t busy, right?

We all are.

And though I’m still relatively young, I’ve realized that every time my birthday rolls around I’m busier than I was the previous year. So I’ve got to figure this thing out now, because I’m not getting any younger.

I’m not saying I need to figure out how to avoid working hard. Although, we do often times allow ourselves to take on an unhealthy amount of work that becomes detrimental to our lives.

I’m not saying there won’t be “seasons” that are busier than others. There’s nothing wrong with that. You have to push through.

What I am saying is this: In the midst of life’s busyness, I (and maybe you too) have to figure out how to maintain balance and prioritize what’s most important. 

If you don’t, you’ll one day realize it’s been…

…3 months since reading your Bible…

…2 years since going on a family vacation…

…6 weeks since calling your mom…

…1 year since exercising…

…2 weeks since getting home early enough to play with the kids…

…5 years since sharing your faith…

…2 months since blogging.

I don’t know what it is for you, but there is something you intended to do that has fallen short. The good news is you can start again. The bad news is it’s not easy.

Intentions are never enough.

In fact, you’ve probably even heard the saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

You need a plan of action. Because busyness eats intentions for lunch every time. 

So how am I going to get back to blogging? By focusing on 2 things: self-discipline and self-development.

Without self-discipline, as life gets busier I’ll have longer and longer gaps between blog posts.

Without self-development, I won’t have anything to say.

This idea of developing ourselves is a lost art in our culture today. We look to others to develop us as if it’s someone else’s responsibility. This attitude permeates all of culture, but is unfortunately very often found inside the church. Someone will make sure you know they are leaving your church because they are “just not getting fed,” which is ridiculous. Learn to feed yourself!

I once heard one of my favorite authors say this: “I’m not responsible for filling your cup, but I am responsible for emptying mine.”

I can’t pour out what I haven’t been poured in to. Going forward I must prioritize making sure my cup is getting full. By doing so, I’ll write out of the overflow and others may be able to grab something that helps them fill their cup.

I hope this doesn’t come across arrogantly, but I know there are a few people who have benefitted from my blog posts. They’ve told me. And that doesn’t puff me up as much as it humbles me. It still amazes me that God would use me to help others. And I want to be used as long as He sees fit.

I also can’t explain it, but I have a burden to communicate through speaking and writing. It’s not something I want to do as much as something I feel like I have to do. When I do it, I have a sense of lower case “f” fulfillment.

So that’s why I’m back. I have this burden to communicate and help others.

Until I feel like I’m no longer helping people or blogging becomes an antiquated way of communicating with the world, I’ll keep it up. If I miss a week, or even two, give me some grace. Life gets busy. But if I’m ever gone again for this long…check on me.

Thanks for reading!

Grabbin’ Exponential Quotes

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Exponential East conference in Tampa. Exponential is a conference dedicated to church planting and multiplication. Rather than each local church focusing solely on getting larger, this conference desires that more churches are planted, campuses are launched, leaders are developed, etc., so more people can be reached for Christ. It’s about the capital “C” Church (the Kingdom) growing. Pretty sweet.

With that said, Exponential invited over 175 speakers (not just the big name Christian leaders in America, but little known leaders from around the world who are making a significant impact) and offered 150+ workshops that complemented the conference objective. I attended workshops on discipleship, evangelism, leadership, creativity, vision, being missional, cultural engagement and much more. To say I was mentally drained after the week is an understatement. But it was sooo good! It was refreshing. And it stretched and challenged me in just about every way I could be, which is always healthy.

Since the majority of you who read this were not at the conference, I wanted to give you a taste of some of the content in a tweetable format. If you’re a church leader you’ll eat this up. If you’re not, it should be encouraging to you that leaders are having these worthwhile conversations.

Here are my top 25 quotes from the week!

1. There are 3 reasons people don’t share their faith: 1) Fear. 2) They aren’t passionate about Jesus. 3) They haven’t seen Jesus “work” for them in their life. – Jeff Vanderstelt

2. Christians who are seeking another Bible study to fill their time are normally just using that as a substitution for obedience to God. – Jeff Vanderstelt

3. You choose who you lose. Stop worrying about making everyone happy. Instead, make the right people unhappy.             – Steve Stroope

4. Does your prayer life match the responsibility God has entrusted to you? – Joby Martin

5. Passion moves people’s hearts, not rightly exegeted texts. – Shawn Lovejoy

6. Your role as a leader is to raise up other leaders. It’s not about you just sitting in an office and coming up with ideas.         – JD Greear

7. You want your team to have buy in not just compliance. – Steve Stroope

8. The best vision is a shared vision. Let other people contribute to its development and then let them own it and run with it. – JD Greear

9. We have to care more about how our people are doing than what they are doing for us. – Joby Martin

10. The stuff that wears you out and that you aren’t good at is someone else’s unique ability. Learn to delegate. – Steve Stroope

11. Leadership is anticipation. It’s solving problems before anybody knows there is a problem. – Steve Stroope

12. The cross is not a tragedy it’s a strategy for His kingdom come. – Danielle Strickland

13. What if the lack of growth of the American church has more to do with the leader’s idolatry of success and bigger buildings than it does with the hard hearts of the people? – JD Greear

14. People aren’t primarily moved or changed by bullet points or sermons. They are changed when you give them a different story to live into. – Michael Frost

15. God captures not by force, but by the imagination of his fallen creatures. – Michael Frost

16. “What we need in America is multiplied weakness; tear filled pastors.” – Derwin Gray

17. Encoded into the DNA of suburban American is “be safe”, “build houses,” “renovate your kitchen,” “send your kids to the best schools.” Left to their own devices they will be sucked into the American dream. The only thing that will draw them out is story….Stop only telling people that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. Tell them what it could look like if they lived like Jesus. Tell them the story of God and what it could look like if they saw heaven. – Michael Frost

18. We often never become who God has created us to be because we allow ourselves to be who everyone expects us to be. – Dave Rhodes

19. Influence is what happens when everyone is gathered. Impact is what happens when everyone is scattered. – Dave Rhodes

20. Jesus didn’t just come and die on a cross. He lived before us. Why? To show us how to live. – Hugh Halter

21. Close proximity to people doesn’t mean you condone their behavior. It just means you are with them like Jesus was.       – Hugh Halter

22. To be self-righteous is to think that others’ sins are worse than yours. – Hugh Halter

23. In today’s world nobody belongs anywhere because everybody belongs everywhere. – Michael Frost

24. A transactional gospel translates to people who don’t need discipleship. It’s simply a transaction. I receive Christ and I get out of hell. We need to recover the full gospel. Follow me. Come and die. It’s all of life. – Bobby Harrington

25. Jesus is not a footnote to our story. He is the story. – Derwin Gray

Haiti

11011056_10152705523048994_3997068729463449874_n
From March 7th – 14th I traveled to Haiti on a mission trip with 32 other students and adults from Bell Shoals. And it was an incredible trip!
 
For the last two weeks I’ve been processing it all and I will continue to do so for a very long time.
 
When you visit a country like Haiti you are impacted in ways that cannot be fully explained. In order to fully understand you have to experience it.
 
Since most people have never visited Haiti, and because I was changed by it, I’ve wanted to post about it. But I’ve been struggling to find the right words. How do you put into a single post what was such an eye-opening, life-changing and kingdom-impacting trip? You can’t perfectly. So I’ll cut myself some slack up front and briefly share some of what I experienced. What I saw.
 
I saw breathtaking views of Haiti’s mountains, lakes and coastline.
 
I saw our students stretched outside of their comfort zone and step up to serve others and share Christ.
 
image
I saw children walk miles to get to school and many without shoes.
 
I saw women and children carrying water and other materials on their heads.
 
I saw beautiful smiles, joy and contentment in so many of the Haitian people even though they have so little.
 
I saw poverty. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Clean drinking water, food, health care and education are just a few of their essential needs that we in America don’t think twice about. To find out more about Haiti click here.
 image 
I saw the necessity of partnering with an organization that has ongoing contact with the community you are serving. We partnered with Greg, Maria and Caleb Shepherd with RTS Missions. They are making a HUGE impact in Haiti. People are being saved from earthly struggles and eternal separation with Christ through their ministry. To learn more about RTS click here.
 
I saw that a mission trip really can make a difference. We fed over 1200 children a hot meal, many of which had not received a hot meal in over a week. We saw the power of holding a child’s hand, giving a hug and tangibly showing love to others. And most importantly, our team led over 100 children to accept Christ! In talking with Greg, he told me of a young girl who had been present for 12 mission team visits to her school in the past. Each team presented the gospel, but she did not accept Christ. The 13th time a team came she decided to give in and accept Him. Each of those first 12 teams had a small part in God working in her heart. And had they not gone, that young girl would not now know Jesus. There are countless other lives with similar stories. Going matters!
image
Finally, for the first time in my life I grasped the weight of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31-46. Verse 40 sums it up well:
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus cares passionately about reaching the lost. He also cares passionately about loving the least. I needed, and I believe our churches need, a renewed heart for the least. To not love them may lead to dangerous consequences. To love them gets closest to the heart of God. Read all 16 verses and you’ll see what I mean.
image
There is certainly a whole lot more I could say and some key things I’m sure I left out. Maybe I’ll write a part 2. In the end, God changed my life in Haiti and I’d go back in a heartbeat. Not to just experience it all again, but to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others. To love the least. And reach the lost. Until next time, I pray I will live out the change that I’ve experienced here at home in Brandon, FL.
Haiti has my heart.
 
10155870_10152726309968994_1244758817784476873_n

What a Life…Happy Birthday Dean Smith!

Dean Smith.

Does this name mean anything to you? To thousands of people it means the world. Sadly, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, he passed away 3 weeks ago. He would have been 84 years old today.

Dean Smith (Coach Smith to those who knew him) was the head basketball coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels for 36 seasons. His coaching accomplishments on the court are widely known and respected. His teams won 879 games, 2 National Championships,13 ACC Tournament titles and appeared in 11 Final Fours.

While those numbers are remarkable, his greatest legacy is who he was off the court.

I’ve often heard it said that “success is when those closest to you say the best things about you.” If that’s true, Dean Smith is one of the most successful people ever to live.

Through reading numerous articles, blogs, tweets and quotes from journalists, players, coaches, staff and others associated with the “Carolina Family” I’ve realized it will be difficult to find another Dean Smith. It will be difficult to find another person who was loved by so many for who he was. Those closest to him truly said the best things about him.

He was extremely humble.

He modeled and expected excellence.

He was a man of integrity.

He fought racial discrimination and helped to integrate Chapel Hill.

He was deeply shaped by his Christian faith and it propeled him to speak out against social injustices.

He had a remarkable memory which helped him to remember people’s names and details about their lives.

He genuinely cared for people. Not just cared about people. Not just cared what he could get out of people. Not just cared when people were useful to him. Not just cared for people when they were around. He truly cared for people. And not just some people. He cared for all the people he came in contact with.

I had the privilege of playing for a high school basketball coach, Ed Wills, who was a manager on the 1993 North Carolina National Championship team. Coach Wills was the one who taught me how to shoot the correct way. He brought to our team years of basketball knowledge. Looking back now, I realize many of the lessons he worked to instill in us were undoubtedly learned while at Carolina. And for that, among other things, we were fortunate and I am thankful. I’ll never forget a few conversations with Coach Wills as he recounted his relationship with Dean Smith. Coach Wills wasn’t a star player on Carolina and to Dean Smith that didn’t matter. Dean Smith knew his name. Knew his family. Knew about his coaching career. Kept in contact with him after he left Carolina. Dean Smith was only a “phone call away.” And Coach Wills was one of thousands who could recount a similar relationship. Remarkable.

In a world where most everyone cares about “being known,” or “knowing the famous,” Dean Smith was a breath of fresh air. He knew thousands of people, and yet the mailman or grocery store bagger felt valued by him.

And what’s remarkable is that he didn’t just show the intention to care about people. He tangibly showed it. He wrote letters. Made phone calls. Remembered names. Gave gifts. Gave of his time.

He wasn’t hurried, distracted or too busy.

He was consistent.

He was a person of power that could have made himself more powerful. Instead, he leveraged his power to help others.

He was present.

Were he alive now, I doubt he’d ever trip over a crack in the sidewalk from staring at the latest status updates on his iPhone. He wouldn’t have been concerned over what was going to happen tomorrow. He would have focused on today. He would have focused on what was right in from of him. Who was right in front of him.

I could obviously go on and on. What a life.

Happy Birthday, Dean Smith!

May more people live with integrity. May more people live out their faith. May more people genuinely care for others. May more people live in the present. And might “I” be a part of those “more people.”

A collection of articles about Dean Smith can be found here.