Leadership Lessons Learned from Football

Recently, I read an excerpt from Tony Morgan’s book Killing Cockroaches. I wanted to share one particular part in this book. He called it Leadership Lessons I learned from Football. I will give my two cents for what it’s worth.

First of all let me say, I love football. I love football season. I hope that what Tony wrote and what I say will make people think. Here it goes.

T – 1. If thousands of people make some noise, it can get pretty loud. When lots of people get focused on one thing, they can sure make some noise.

My 2 Cents – Isn’t this the truth. Why can’t we relate this to the church? We, as the church, should speak up, but what we speak up for is mostly political agendas and what’s bad in the world. Isn’t it obvious that the world is getting worse according to God’s standards. When you read the Bible, you can see times that the world was in chaos, but God had people that stood up and made some noise. They spoke truth and love. They spoke of God’s love.

T – 2. People will do some crazy things to worship something they love. Paint their bodies. Raise their arms. Jump around. Sing songs. Clap. Chant. Even in the craziness of a nationally televised game, though, there are security personnel who are charged with keeping the “worship” orderly.

My 2 Cents – This makes me want to question do we love God enough. Do we have to raise our hands in worship or clap or jump or anything else in order worship God? No we don’t, but we act like fools at football games and then get annoyed when the preacher asks us to stand and sing or encourages us to raise or clap our hands. Jesus gave up His life for us and a football team did nothing for us.

T – 3. When you really believe in something, you’ll take a stand. Clemson fans don’t sit down. I haven’t figured out why they installed seats in the stadium. The fans were on their feet for the entire four hours.

My 2 Cents – During a thirty minute worship service many people can’t make it five minutes.

T – 4. People will put their money where their heart is. They’ll spend $30,000, as an example, just to own a piece of land to tailgate before and after the game. They’ll invest millions of dollars into a facility to help recruit new athletes. It’s amazing the cash people will lay down for something they love.

My 2 Cents – In church if the preacher mentions anything about money people say, “all he ever does is talk about money.” Matthew 6:21 says, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

T – 5. When the cause is big enough, people will give their time. I’m convinced time is our scarcest commodity today. But people started showing up very early the morning of the game to stake out their territory. They hung out with friends. They served each other meals. They walked miles to find parking spaces. They stood in the football stadium for more than four hours. They sat in traffic for a couple more hours after the game. It takes a big investment of time to support something that’s bigger than yourself.

My 2 Cents – How much time have you given to God lately the master and ruler of the universe? Are we satisfied with 5 minutes of bible reading and an hour on Sunday? Doesn’t God, the one who sent His son to earth to die for you deserve more time than football?

I love football, but I never want it to become more important to me than my relationship with God.

When Jesus Comes Knocking

The knock came at the door of the inn. It was late. We can imagine the innkeeper had been burning both ends of the candle. The census crowd had packed Bethlehem and he had finally locked the doors for the night.

Until the knock. He shuffled his feet through the dark and made his way to the door. Opening it with the slightest of cracks he peered out to see a young couple. Looking more closely he saw a young woman who was about to give birth to a child.

Rooms were full. It was late. And they didn’t look very special. He had to decide whether he would find room for them or not.

And you will too. John’s rendition of the birth of Christ comes in a few short words: “The Word  [logos] became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Greek hearers understood the word “logos” as the representation of God. The essence of God was found in his Word.

Hebrew readers perked up to John’s message too. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” He book ends the first sentence of his book with the phrase “in the beginning.”  They knew it as the words that began the first book of the Torah, or Genesis.

John writes about beginnings. John writes about God’s very representation dwelling among us. And he writes to tell us that we have the same decision to make as the innkeeper. Will we find a place for Jesus in our lives or will we send him away?

Some send him away because he looks too plain. Nothing special about him. Don’t make that mistake. He comes to common places like your home and common places like your heart.

Some send him away because life is crowded. Many demands and many deadlines. And you’re not sure if you have room for him. But he only comes to give you what he has already done. He desires to give you forgiveness.

And some send him away because they think it’s too late. They’ve already done too much that can’t be forgiven. They’ve already gone too far away.

But it’s never too late. Not with the one who comes and makes his dwelling among us. You need only to open the door.

Join us Sunday as we continue The Story at 10:30 am.

Rebuilding the Walls of Brokenness

Many of us were familiar with the film critic duo Siskel and Ebert.  Gene Siskel died in 1999.  Then, in 2006, Robert Ebert lost his lower jaw and his voice to complications from cancer.  He has since relied on Post-it notes, his writing, and various automated voices.  The kind you find on your laptop.  He types in the words and then pushes a button that translates his written words into  spoken words that come out of his speakers.

One voice was called Alex.  A generic American accent with no emotion.  Very robotic.  He had used a British accent named Lawrence.  But no off-the-shelf automated voice matched his distinctive voice, a voice that millions knew from his show, At the Movies, for so many years.  The voice he most wanted was his own.

Enter CereProc. A Scottish company that customizes text-to-speech software for voiceless customers. robot.[1]  The company custom-builds voices by mining an individual’s own archived voice recordings and piecing together, syllable by syllable, Ebert’s voice.  When it finishes its work, Ebert will sound like Ebert.  At least more so than Alex or Lawrence do.

Sometimes we don’t miss a voice until it goes silent.  At the end of the Old Testament there is a period of 400 years often referred to as “the silent years.”  Years without any prophets or leaders whose words or lives were recorded in Scripture.  Years where there was no voice from God.

But before the silence Ezra read the word of God to the people.   His desire was that they rebuild the wall around Jerusalem for protection.  And God’s greater desire was to rebuild the hearts of his people.  The men, women and children gathered together.  They heard the word.  They understood the word.  And then they did the word.

You can hear God’s voice in the same way these people did.  Through his word.  It’s not Alex’s voice.  It’s not Lawrence’s voice.  It’s his voice.  When you hear it there will be a response.  The Israelites wept.  Others have repented.  Still others have heard good news and rejoiced.  And you?  If you hear it today, it can rebuild your life.

Ebert’s real voice nor his electronic will never be heard again. He passed away in 2013, but God’s is still speaking today.  You only need to gather the men, women, and children, open his book, and listen.

[1] http://www.esquire.com/features/roger-ebert-0310-3#ixzz0fv5oyUaI

When Life Feels Like Its On A Roll

I was out of pocket last week, so I am behind a week on my blog. Today you get two for the price of one.

Sometimes you may feel like life is a big gamble.  Like the outcome of your life is resting on how the dice roll for you.  If they roll right, you get “lucky.”  If they roll badly, your life goes down the tubes.

There are times when the stars seem to align just right and you find yourself basking in a bundle of blessings.  Then there are times when everything seems out of sync and you find yourself drudging through a junkyard of disaster.  Some would call this a coincidence.  Others would call it pure luck.  But another group would say that someone is working behind the scenes working out your destiny. And they’d be right! But it’s more than just someone.

Esther would understand.  She is minding her own business as her people are captive in Persia.  Meanwhile Haman—who has been given great authority by the King of Persia—is developing a hatred for Jews.  In particular, he hates Mordecai.  It seems Mordecai will not bow down to Haman whenever he parades through the streets of Susa.

Haman decides to teach Mordecai a lesson.  He gets King Xerxes to sign a decree that on a certain day all the Jews can be killed.  And anyone killing a Hebrew would be allowed to keep the personal possessions of the deceased Hebrew.

To determine the exact day when the Hebrews will be exterminated, Haman rolls the dice.  Adar the 13th becomes the target date.

In the meantime, the king is having some issues with the queen.  She refuses the king’s summons so she is released of her queenly duties.  Then, because he needs a new queen, he holds the first “Bachelor” contest to find a new wife.  The short story is that Esther gets the rose and becomes his queen.

Yet Xerxes did not know Esther was a Hebrew.  Nor that Esther was kin to Mordecai.  The king adds another edict that will allow the Hebrews to defend themselves, which turned out good for the Hebrews and bad for any Persian that attacked a Hebrew on Adar the 13th.

And Haman?  Well, in a strange twist of events he wound up impaled on a pole he himself had erected for Mordecai.  Not sure he got “the point” of the story, but I hope you do.  Oddly enough throughout the book of Esther you will never find the name of God mentioned.  Not once.

There are days you may think he is not around either.  But the story of Esther reminds us that he is, sometimes behind the scenes, working things out for “good for those who love him” (Romans 8:28).  And when you don’t feel he is around, that’s more your problem than his.

He has put you right where you are, right now, so you can make a difference.  You can say the words someone needs to hear.  You can be the example someone needs to see.  You can help someone find freedom from sin.   So let others roll the dice and you let God take care of the rest.