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Category Archives: Leadership

Toughest Job on the Planet is to lead well

“THE MAN IN THE ARENA”

I had a great talk recently with a man who is running for public office. He talked of his determination to make a difference and impact the State for good. He also talked of what he knows awaits him (should he be elected) …criticism, misunderstanding and judgement.

With some sadness I reminded him that there will also be a never ending parade of arm-chair quarterbacks who would not dare step forward and make the same effort he will make but feel completely justified “tearing him down” when he does not do what they determine he should.

He smiled and referenced the “Man in the Arena”.

“The what?”  I asked.

“The Man in the Arena”, he said. “You know, it is the guy doing the work that counts and not the critics”

On the way home I Googled “The Man In The Arena” and came up with the following excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”, delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 -by Theodore Roosevelt.    download PDF

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I read the entire speech (some 20 pages long). For you history buffs it is very cool. But even if you can’t stand looking back further than last week you will still enjoy what Roosevelt said.  I though about it a lot and started to see it all around me (and in me)  

Actual quotes….this week

“That ref is horrible” … spoken from a fan some 65 yards away from the play in question.

“The coach is an idiot”... this from a person who got as far as Pee Wee football so he clearly knows how a D1 College Coach should lead his team.

Our President is incompetent” – from someone who’s entire political education comes from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. (I’m a fan too…but maybe need a little balance ya think?) 

“The administrators at (college) are stupid”... of course the alums know everything that is going into the decision in dispute.

“Our (player) is a choker” … yea, he is paid millions of dollars a year because he is no good.

We criticize from our ignorance….

How bout this: ….unless you have been “The player”, The Coach, The Candidate, The Ref, The Boss, The Pastor, The “whatever”  …then give them the benefit of the doubt before you decide “they” are complete “knuckleheads”.

REMEMBER: Someday YOU WILL BE THE “MAN IN THE ARENA” 

but only if you are willing to “DARE GREATLY”

 

THANKS FBC!

June 22, 2011

Dear Church family,

I am very excited about what God is doing here at First Baptist church. The growth, outreach, camaraderie and excellence of this church is a minister’s dream.

BUT today is the culmination of about 9 weeks of resistance, prayer, and finally willingness to embrace what God seems to have for me and my family.  I have accepted God’s call to go to Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas and serve on her staff.   My last Sunday as Minister of Education and Discipleship here at First Baptist will be June 19, 2011

We make this decision with GREAT EXCITEMENT but a heavy heart.

I cannot thank everyone this morning but I want to thank THREE GROUPS OF FOLKS:

  • Staff Leadership
    • Dr Jeffress for taking a chance on me almost 9 years ago (personnel committee for agreeing to it) and asking me to be the Minister of Young Adults. Allowing me to come back to Wichita Falls and serve in my home church.
    • Pastor Bob (Dr. Bob McCartney) – for hiring me to be the Minister of Education and Discipleship shortly after he arrived here.
      • His Passion and Vision are infectious and we soon adopted them as our own
      • His steady leadership and excellence in the pulpit has blessed my family and this church.
      • He has become not just my pastor but my friend.
      • I trust him and respect him more than you will know
      • He (and MaryAnne) has blessed Margie, me, and my kids by being a man we respect and admire not just in the pulpit but at the dinner table.
      • I want to say publicly: “Thank you for allowing me to serve here on your team”.
    • Jerry Royal – It is no secret that Jerry is one of my closest friends in ministry.
      • Jerry is a gifted leader and teacher
      • He has been a ministerial peer, and then boss and has handled that transition with integrity, sensitivity and wisdom.
      • We have walked together through the ups and downs of ministry.
      • He has been willing to “pick me up” when needed and “push back” when necessary
      • I have grown more and “walked better with God” because of his friendship.
      • WE have grown more b/c of Jerry and Mary’s friendship.
  • The STAFF I have gotten to serve with:
    • They have been tested by the fires of ministry and been found faithful, deeply spiritual and competent.
    • They are fiercely loyal, incredibly competent.
    • They work hard and expect little in return.
    • They rallied around me and Margie when I assumed leadership of the Ed Staff
    • There are no self-absorbed egos.
    • I am honored to have served alongside them
  • THE CHURCH BODY (this is my home) 
    • When I was 13 years old (1980) I gave my life to Jesus Christ in what is now the East Sanctuary of this church
    • Asked Margie to marry me on the platform (East Sanctuary) and Dr. Chapman married us 11 months later here at FBC
    • Some of you even took care of Margie when she was a child.
    • I baptized my son here in this church
    • My kids have deepened their faith here
    • Not a Sunday goes by where someone does not come up to me and thanks me for something I may or may not have had anything to do with.
    • You have blessed my kids
    • You have blessed my wife
    • You have accepted me as one of your own
    • You have APPLAUDED MY STRENGTHS AND COVERED MY WEAKNESSES 
    • You have made it easy to serve here.

Our Pastor, Staff and Body have shaped our lives for almost 9 years. (IN many ways for 31 years).

There are exciting days ahead for First Baptist Church!

PLEASE PRAY for us during this transition as you can be sure that we are praying for you.

Thank you.

Hixon and Margie Frank, Sydney, Sarah-Clare and Grayson

 
7 Comments

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Family, Leadership

 

MINISTRY WEEK: “THE FOG OF … MINISTRY?” Devo 5-6-11

The FOG OF WAR is a term used to describe the uncertainty in situation awareness experienced by participants in military operations.The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversarycapability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign. -Wikipedia

Anyone who has been in ministry for very long has experienced something similar… The FOG of MINISTRY. It is the feeling of being overwhelmed, uncertain, and fearful with regard to what you have been asked to do in ministry. There was (is) ways something that could be done at church: more phone calls to make, more preparation to pull together, more people to see, more notes to be written, more meetings to hold, more study to do, more details to execute, more leaders to shape etc…… it creates a “fog” in the heart of the ministry leader that makes him uncertain and timid….it also robs him of his joy.

THE BEST “FOG LIGHT” I KNOW IS TO FIND “YOUR MINISTRY” WITHIN “YOUR MINISTRY”

ASK YOURSELF THESE TWO QUESTIONS…

1. WHAT IS IT ABOUT MINISTRY THAT GOT YOU “JAZZED UP” IN THE FIRST PLACE? Do you remember? For me it was several things…

  • Seeing the “light come on” with people. Helping people “get it”! So I started to incorporate a lot more Teaching into the way I executed my assignments.We also started a ministry called “Wingmen” that allowed me to teach a bunch of guys each week… The fog began to lift….
  • Leadership Development – I am wired to exhort and encourage folks in their walk with Jesus so it is a natural overflow of that tendency in my life. So I started meeting weekly with the young staff members who were new to the staff…the fog dissipated.
  • Shepherding – I am a Sheepdog and not a German Shepherd so I intentionally tried to see my staff and volunteers as “sheep to be lead” and not “cattle to be driven”. Joy crept back into my “ministry”.

2. WHAT WOULD YOU DO “FOR FREE?”. In other words, if you did not receive a paycheck from the church, what would you be involved in for the cause of Christ? For me it was pretty simple, I would…

  • Systematically “disciple” younger guys in their marriages and “Walk with Jesus.
  • Volunteer to teach any large group gathering that would have me…
  • I would direct (shepherd) a LIFE group
  • Probably be a greeter at the Welcome Center

What I have discovered is that I can effectively shape my ministry responsibilities to fit how I am wired. I am called to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”…so I teach, develop and shepherd in a way that accomplished this…..see?

I think Moses was in the “FOG OF MINISTRY” when the following passage was written….

EXODUS 18:17-23

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

 

GOD ROCKS! WEEK: “Evidence for the Resurrection” Devo 4-22-11

Evidence for the Resurrection

by Josh McDowell

For centuries many of the world’s distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. But the historical evidence just can’t be discounted.

A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. “Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?”

“For a very simple reason,” I answered. “I am not able to explain away an event in history–the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?


A QUESTION OF HISTORY

After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings–or it is the most remarkable fact of history.

Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal, and was crucified. Three days after His death and burial, some women who went to His tomb found the body gone. In subsequent weeks, His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven.

From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to exert great influence down through the centuries.


LIVING WITNESSES

The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.

The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In advocating their case for the gospel, a word that means “good news,” the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection.

F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: “Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”


IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE?

Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the resurrection, many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical documents.

By the end of the 1 9th century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date.

Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. William F. Albright, who in his day was the world’s foremost biblical archaeologist, said: “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”

Coinciding with the papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). The historian Luke wrote of “authentic evidence” concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. ”

I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .  E. M. Blaiklock Professor of Classics, Auckland University


BACKGROUND

The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.

A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to “prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.

But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many “infallible proofs.” Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead. Consider these facts:

• FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
As we have said, the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus’ disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times.

FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
As we have already discussed, another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was “too notorious to be denied.” Paul Althaus states that the resurrection “could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.”
Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the “Toledoth Jeshu.” Dr. Paul Maier calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine.”
Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God’s doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ’s body.
Paul Maier observes that ” . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”

FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED

On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.
There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.  – Clark Pinnock , McMaster University
Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus’ body, how could they have done that without the guards’ awareness?

FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL

The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors’ wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were drawn to see which one wand be punished with death for the guard unit’s failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of punishment “produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches.”

FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE

In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty–because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty–like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar’s cocoon. That’s enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes–undisturbed in form and position.

FACT #6: JESUS’ APPEARANCES CONFIRMED

Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter . When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.


OVER 500 WITNESSES

Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ’s post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ’s appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.” Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.


HOSTILE WITNESSES

Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced.

Over and over again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using that argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.

If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.

 

“GOD ROCKS!” WEEK: “Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play!” Devo 4-19-11

John Fogerty (formerly of CCR) wrote a song in 1985 called “Centerfield”. If you have ever been to a professional baseball game then you would recognize it. The song is about a guys who is “born again” because there is “new grass on the field” (baseball season is here) He has a “beat up glove” and a “home-made bat” (who does that?) and a “brand new pair of shoes” and he pleads “Put me in Coach, I’m Ready to play….today!”

The guy is anxious to get in and play in the game! He thinks he is ready, he has practiced and now he wants in!

Yesterday we looked at what Isaiah saw in the Temple. He saw God High and lifted up. He saw mighty seraphim singing praises to God. He saw and felt the walls of the temple shake with the voices of the angels. He was terrified and responded with humility, embarrassment and repentance.

ADDITIONALLY:

HE RESPONDED BY EXPRESSING A DESIRE TO BE USED BY GOD TO FURTHER GOD’S WORK!

He thinks he is ready, he has practiced and now he wants in!

Isaiah 6:8   

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”   

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”   

What is God asking you to do RIGHT NOW to further His kingdom. For some it might be to begin to lead your home well. For others it is that step of faith He has laid on your heart AGAIN. For still others it is finally breaking free form the bondage of sin that so easily “entangles us”.

Whatever He is asking…will you respond like Isaiah did?

HERE AM I. SEND ME! 

 

 

“GOD ROCKS!” WEEK: “I Am Ruined” Devo 4-18-11

Isaiah 6:1-5  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their

voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Setting the Stage:

This is an amazing story about the prophet Isaiah’s Commissioning. He is taken to the temple and experiences the majesty, power and glory of God.   Isaiah SAW…

  • God seated on a throne (Kings)
  • His train (of His robe)  filled the temple (Almighty King, longer the train…more grand the king)
  • Angels (not “Precious Moments” figurine angels either) these were massive, fierce creatures with 6 wings! Ever wonder why every time someone sees and angel they are afraid?  This is why…they are huge, ripped, intimidating, supernatural beings!!!
  • Temple shook with the sound of their voices (love to see a sweet little cupid angel do that!!!)
  • The smoke represented the very presence and Spirit of God.
Look at Isaiah’s response to what he sees: (v 5)  It is as if he is becomes aware of his sin…and not just his sin but the sins of his people. We see later that…
3 THINGS:
ISAIAH’S RESPONSE IS NATURAL – his response is the same as anyone who sees God for who he really is. He is amazed, embarrassed and motivated to change.
ISAIAH’S RESPONSE IS NECESSARY  – everyone who wants to “walk well” with God must understand that He is holy, sovereign and worthy to be praised.
ISAIAH’S RESPONSE IS TRANSFORMING – He is different having been with God.  Are we different b/c we have been with God?  Have you been with God? People will be able to see it.
WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO GOD?
 

LEADERSHIP WEEK: “And the KIDS will Lead Them” Devo 4-13-11

I LOVE KIDS….

But when it comes to LEADERSHIP IN THE HOME the job does not fall to the “10 year old” to determine what is best. It falls to mom and dad.

In light of that fact, may I have a small fit for a moment…thank you!

Some time ago I spoke to a nice family at the soccer complex. We talked about sports, jobs and kids and then the subject turned to church. They mentioned they had tried one of our services and loved it. “Now we’re talking!”, I thought.

Then the dad explained proudly that they would be out most Sundays in the Spring because their son (11) was on a traveling baseball team that plays each weekend in the Metroplex. (We live about 120 miles from Dallas/Ft.Worth).

“So, will you just attend church down there?” I asked, clearly trying to make a point.

“Well, er…eh… we will have church together as a family at the hotel”, came the “honest to goodness” reply.

He also mentioned that his daughter (9) really hopes to be on a traveling Soccer team in the Fall so they hope to be with her most weekends too. (So the plan is to spend most weekends in the Spring and Fall out of town and out of church, I guess they have the summer and Christmas vacation to get plugged in to a local church.)  THEN to cap it off they asked me to pray that she would make the team!

…. make the team? MAKE THE TEAM! What I really hope is that she does not make the team, her brother hates baseball and the family gets in church more than once a quarter.

JUDGEMENTAL? I’m really not judging their hearts…in fact I would say that their hearts are in the right place...but I am judging their actions! I’ve said it before but these are the “same folks” who will insist their rebellious 17 year olds go to church to get “their head straight” and when that does not happen they will blame God, the church and even Abner Doubleday!

1. NO ONE GROWS IN THEIR FAITH ON A SPORTS FIELD (or in bed) ON SUNDAY MORNING. “…but we are tired….but we were up till 1:30am last night…. but we have been so busy this Spring…. but no one likes us there….. but God is everywhere and we are going to have church at the ball field ….. but kids from “our school” don’t go there…. but the youth guys does not even know my name….but little Johnny’s “ex” goes there and that would be uncomfortable… but the church is full of hypocrites…. zzzzzzz ….heard it all before!  I understand that sometime everyone has to miss church. I am not a legalist but seriously. How can you be involved in and grow with a church when you attend only 25% of the time?

TRANSLATION: “Even though Jesus Christ “loved the church and Gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25 “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.) we don’t believe it is all that big of a deal. We will let ya know if we need ya.”

2. YOU MAKE YOUR KIDS GO TO SCHOOL DON’T YA? (applies to home schoolers too) If little Suzie got up one morning and said “Mom”, I don’t want to go to school today because I was up too late last night.” What would you say? How bout if Timmy whined, “nobody likes me there and the teachers are stupid!” What do you say then?  You would say (since you love them) “look whistle britches, get your rear out of bed, put your clothes on, brush your teeth and get in the car!” If you can grab a pop-tart as you run through the kitchen then fine….but be in that car in ten minutes!

TRANSLATION: Church is not that important to us…. we will fight to get them out of bed and to school by 7:15 (cuz THAT is important) but we allow them to drag themselves their into a LIFE group 30 minutes late if they go at all (Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it..)

3. A FAMILY THAT REVOLVES AROUND THE KIDS CAN MAKE FOR SELF-ABSORBED CHILDREN. I am NOT implying that the kids should not get your attention...just not ALL of your attention. They need to know that there are things MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEY ARE sometimes. Things like your spouse, those in need….GOD!  Every time you make a choice to place them ahead of your spouse, those in need and God, you are creating little self-absorbed “monsters”…..ok maybe that was too strong….how bout self-absorbed “rascals”…yea “rascals” is better.

TRANSLATION: You are the most important thing in the world…ya little darling.

THE CHALLENGE TO MOMS AND DADS IS TO LEAD OUR FAMILIES IN THE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT FOR MORE THAN JUST “THIS SPRING”