28
Jan
2015
0

We Need To Stop Getting Even

Back in the day, which am pretty sure was Thursday, I had a t-shirt the read, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” It was a funny shirt. There were bumper stickers with it plastered on them, backpacks, folders, even a couple of billboards at the beach I grew up near had this phrase on them. It almost became the mantra of a generation. We don’t boil over for what you do to us, we will get even and it will destroy you worse than you could ever hurt me.

I have this friend named Blake who is an incredible friend. We have done years and years of life together. He has been a pastor at a couple different churches and now owns and runs a company called Legacy Building in Nashville. FYI…side note…you should buy something from him…it is UNREAL stuff. Ok…back to the story. Blake and I laugh more together than anyone that I know. He is certifiably crazy. For a stint of our relationship, he thought that it would be funny to pull a couple elaborate pranks on me. For instance, while I was living in Dallas, U2 had a tour stop to play at the new Cowboys Stadium. The show sold out immediately. However, Blake put an ad on Craigslist with my name and cell phone number and told the world that I had two front row tickets to the show. For the next three days my phone blew up. The phone call that finally revealed who it was, was the one from Blake looking for those tickets. From that point on I began to live with my 15-year-old mantra of “I don’t get mad, I get even.”

For years I have been waiting and plotting my retaliation. I let him believe that he had gotten me good and that I had tapped out and surrendered. But in the shadows I was lurking and prowling like a lion waiting to devour my prey. Then it happened…

This past summer our middle school pastor Jake and I took a motorcycle trip to Nashville to visit Blake. While we were having coffee with a new friend, Blake went to the back of the coffee shop to do some work while we visited with this man. Jake texted Blake from across the coffee shop something to the effect of “hey good lookin’!!!” Here was the kicker, Blake did not have Jake’s number in his phone. He immediately responded with a who is this and how may I help you. That was enough for us to take our chance of getting even. What transpired next was nothing short of brilliant. An elaborate plan began to unfold.

When asked how we got his number, we responded with “off a bathroom wall.” Unknown to us was that Blake was working with a new ad company that was using bathrooms as a place to promote businesses and he thought that was what the contact was about. What a stroke of luck for us. Over the next three days we kept up communication. We made her, you read that right, HER…sound like a very lovable and likable person. She wanted to write a blog about his business. When he tried to schedule a later date, she got a little belligerent. She pushed back and went a little crazy. Keep in mind…SHE IS NOT REAL. As we were creating our character we began to let his wife and four girls in on the situation. We got his employees in on the ploy. But the greatest part of the whole story was that we were able to get a real FBI agent involved who helped us create a fake criminal profile for this man…that was posing as a woman…to rob and rip people off. This could not have been going any better.

After three days of stress and torture on my dear friend Blake…and yes we are still the best of friends…it was time for him to find out. We were all sitting in his living room and Jake from across the room, near the window, took a photo of Blake and then texted it to him with the caption, “I like your hair tonight.” Blake quietly got up, went upstairs to his bedroom and began putting an arsenal together to protect his house. It was then that we thought we might want to let the cat out of the bag. We sent one final email with a picture of all of us in his kitchen pointing at the camera. The next thirty seconds were priceless…he walked down the stairs, past his family, and stood right in front of me sitting on his couch. A wry little smile came across his face and he asked one question. In fact it was short…”It’s you isn’t it?” At that moment everyone burst into laughter. He sat in relief. The rest of the night we talked about the scheme we set in motion three days earlier, complete with a fake Facebook profile, twitter profile, Instagram account, and a google+ profile. He was impressed with the level of commitment we took just to get even. Honestly, so was I. So I began to ask myself the question…why did I work so hard to get even?

The story above was all in fun, but it revealed a part of my heart that I don’t really like. It is a dark place that says if you hurt me, then I am going to destroy you to the point that you could never top it. It is a nasty neighborhood in my soul that longs to unleash fury if you make me look like a fool. In fact, I really think it is a dark thing in all of us. We take it a step further sometimes too. It is not just I don’t get mad, I get even. We now live in a culture of I am going to mad, and I am going to get even. However, this is what I know about my heart and my life, and my guess is a lot of you too. The amount of time and energy I spend trying to get even takes more time, energy, and moments I will never get back, than if I would have simply shown grace. Maybe our new life mantra should be “I don’t get even, I give grace.”

Getting even leaves us empty, even after we have gotten even. Getting even leaves us with guilt and shame after we have done the deed. Getting even leaves a wake of destruction that we didn’t want to begin with. Getting even fractures relationships to the point that sometimes they cannot be restored. However, when we show grace everything shifts.

When we show grace, we and the other person are left full of hope. We we show grace, we are encouraged and become an encouragement. When we show grace, we begin to pick up the pieces that destroyed us to begin with. When we show grace, relationships are restored and renewed. When we show grace…everything shifts.

This past weekend we defined God’s grace as NOT getting what we deserve. What we deserve is Hell, what we get is Heaven. What we deserve is separation from God, what we get is a deep-rooted relationship with him. What we deserve is weeping and gnashing of teeth, but what we get is love, comfort, and joy from the Creator of the Universe. Jesus could have gotten even and passed up on being beaten and tortured. Instead he showed us grace and took our place so we would not have to die.

I don’t know who it is in your world that would love to get even with this week, but what if instead you flipped this world on its head and showed that person grace? Who knows, maybe the world around us would stop trying to get even, and would give grace too.

27
Jan
2015
0

Time Does NOT Heal All Wounds

Right now, my girls are fixated on watching the show Facts Of Life. They have all the seasons on DVD and feel the need to watch them constantly. In fact, during our road trip to Maryland over Christmas break they watched and I listened to sixteen hours worth of this show.

As I walked in the door this past Sunday afternoon I heard that refrain I have heard for at least sixteen hours of my life, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life…the facts of life.” In the particular episode that they were watching it was typical 80’s cheesy humor. However, within the first couple moments of the show it took a sudden turn. The phone rang and Natalie (one of the show’s characters) answers with her typical cheerful swagger, but then her face drops to the floor and she loses it. The next scene opens with the rest of the girls getting ready to head to the funeral of Natalie’s father. The rest of the show was quite somber. As they got ready to do the 1984 freeze-frame to end the show, Joe (another one of the characters) said, “Give it time, time heals all wounds.” Yet, for some reason that did not seem to comfort or console Natalie. Then the freeze frame happened, the live studio audience clapped, and the happy-go-lucky music kicked back in with the refrain that the show started with.

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26
Jan
2015
0

The Number One Reason Pastors Struggle

I’m a pastor. By nature there are a myriad of things that we preacher types struggle with. In fact there are things that most people don’t even realize that we struggle with day in and day out. Some are obvious and some are not. Let me start by giving you just a few.

  • We struggle with being accepted
  • We struggle with loneliness
  • We struggle when you don’t show up to church. (Even though you say it is not personal, we take it that way)
  • We struggle when offerings are down
  • We struggle when our families suffer
  • We struggle with criticism
  • We struggle with faith (We are human too, and wrestle through the same things you do.)
  • We struggle with insecurity
  • We struggle with pride
  • We struggle with letting you down
  • We struggle with failure
  • We struggle with success
  • We struggle…

Truth is, we struggle just like the next person. We also know that we have a hope and truth that we preach and teach. The problem is that some days we struggle with that hope and truth too. I know for our preaching team we pour hours and hours into each message we preach. By the time our messages hit the stage on the weekend we have a minimum of 20-25 hours into it. We wrestle with Scriptures. We wrestle with God. We even challenge each other to make sure that we are preaching the full and accurate counsel of God’s Word. We struggle through all the questions you might have in response. We dive into words, texts, and resources to make sure we have all our facts straight. When we finally birth this baby we call a sermon, we are ready for you to wrestle and struggle with it the way we have.

When I get done preaching, as is with most preachers, I am mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. Sunday afternoon I don’t take naps—I take sleeps. However, there is one thing that keeps us pastor types restless. It is in my opinion one of, if not, the top reason we struggle. Are you ready for it?

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25
Jan
2015
0

Sunday Morning Thoughts: Grace Edition

“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” -Aberjhani-

 

“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.” -Criss Jamie-

 

“Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us.”

-Tullian Tchividjian-

 

“If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.” -Charles Spurgeon-

 

24
Jan
2015
0

4 Reasons NOT To Come To CCM Tomorrow

I truly believe that every time that the church gathers together in one of her many buildings each week around the world, that it is one of the most exciting times each and every week. I believe that when the truth is spoken and God’s people respond, there is no greater entity on the planet. I firmly believe that when we gather together lives are changed and people are transformed. I take seriously the call to preach and teach His word with authenticity and accuracy. I believe that when we sing, we are the closest to experiencing what heaven is going to be like. In other words I cannot imagine not being a part of the greatest thing that God has left us responsible for…His Church. With that said, here are four reasons you should not come to CCM tomorrow.

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23
Jan
2015
0

How To Have A Cutting Edge Ministry…In One Easy Step

This coming Tuesday I have been given the opportunity to teach a two and a half hour class at Cincinnati Christian University. When I was asked to teach it I was given the topic of Cutting Edge Principles of Ministry. As I stared back at the topic, one question keep beating against my frontal lobe…what does cutting edge ministry really mean? I was immediately taken back to being a young buck, just out of college, full of fervor and tenacity, and ready to conquer the world for Jesus. I even remember saying phrases like, “we have to be a cutting edge ministry” or “we should be on the edge of culture defining it, not mimicking it.” While I still believe those statements to be true, I am not sure we have defined cutting edge the right way.

Depending on what kind of church you grew up in, or are currently apart of, cutting edge means something completely different. I remember when the church I grew up in went from hymnals to a slide projector…CUTTING EDGE!!! I remember when we got rid of the piano and there was a guitar on stage…CUTTING EDGE!!! I remember when we got rid of pews and put in chairs…CUTTING EDGE!!! I also remember when we put drums, lights, haze, and camera’s in…CUTTING EDGE!!! Here is what is funny though, if all you have ever grown up with is drums, guitars, lights, haze, camera’s, and screens, then it is not so cutting edge…it’s normal. In church world, as long as it is what has been our normal, then it is not cutting edge. However, the moment you change what is our “normal” we are all of a sudden trying to be cutting edge. But what if there was one easy step to being cutting edge? I actually think there might be. Here it is…

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21
Jan
2015
0

50 Shades Of Faith

Last week I had the privilege of traveling back to Dallas, TX and doing the wedding of one of my great friends in this life. While there I had the joy of staying with one of my best friends Rob Gotcher. Rob and I have done a ton of life together. Everything from launching a campus together at a Compass Christian Church, to playing music together, to sharing living rooms and meals together, and just about everything in between. One evening last week Rob and his wife Anna hosted a small group in their home. Well…I say small group…there were over thirty people there, so let’s just say they hosted a small church there. I affectionately called it GCC (Gotcher Christian Church).

They were kicking off a new series and the people were eager to dig in. I was surprised by the mix of people in the room. There really were people from all walks of life walking right through the door of their house that night. People milled around, grazed on some food, and then took their seats in the living room. I asked if I could just be a fly on the wall and listen to what was about to ensue, and they obliged. I was intrigued. As a pastor, very rarely do you get to glimpse behind the curtain of another church this close. It is very rare that you get to be a part of another churches DNA other than by attending a service when you are off for a weekend.

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