Monday, October 27, 2008


"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12: 2-3

Do you have a favorite TV show? Preferably a sit-com or some other scripted show. Got one? Here's the challenge: Go and find the pilot episode of that show. Try searching YouTube or for your favorite show's pilot episode. Watch that pilot episode.

Recently, while I was channel surfing, I found the pilot episode of Seinfeld. I settled in, prepared to laugh and enjoy the antics of one of the funniest shows (in my opinion) in television history. One problem- it wasn't the Seinfeld like I remember it. It was clear that the show was still searching for an identity, and many of the characters were searching too...maybe trying a little too hard too. It was still funny, but not as funny as I remember other episodes being.

Did you watch the pilot of your show yet? Did you notice anything different? The set probably looked different, the characters were probably underdeveloped, and maybe even the transitions from scene to scene were not like normal. All those things came with time.

Faith is the same way-it's a process. If we were to look back at ourselves when we first believed, we might not recognize ourselves...or our faith. We're constantly changing, rediscovering our identities in Christ. Growing in faith...with some set-backs here and there, but the hope is that our faith is growing in the long run.
The TV shows changed because someone worked on them- worked out the characters, plot, and set. Growing in faith is usually not easy-it requires newer, greater challenges. As Christians, we should strive each day to become more and more like Christ... So how does your faith look different from when you first started? How far have you come? What's the next step?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The best is yet to come

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV) (bold added)

Ray Lewis has been one of the NFL's top defensive players for years. Many regard him as one of the greatest linebackers of all time. Ray had a rough start to his professional football trouble, being viewed as a selfish player... that's a lot more than most people could handle. Now, at age 33, Ray is approaching the end of his playing days, but he is still considered one of the best (if not the best) linebacker in the NFL.

During an interview near the start of the 2008 season, Ray talked about his career and his legacy. I couldn't find the quote, and it's been a while, but he said something to the effect of, "In my opinion, I haven't played my best football yet...When I play my best football, I'll be inspiring other players to be better at what they do." He talked about how he didn't think that he could give anything more physically, but if he was able to motivate other players on the team, that could be a more valuable contribution to the team than any personal feat.

Being truly great at anything requires having this kind of effect on people. Great musicians inspire others to learn an instrument, great athletes cause young children to dream of championships, great teachers inspire students to learn.... Being a follower of Christ is no different. To be a great disciple is to live a life that is an example that inspires others to want a personal faith, or maybe grow in their faith. A person can be very holy, but that person must remember that we are to "make disciples" with our faith.
How can you inspire others to follow Christ? How can you inspire your peers at church to grow closer to God? Who do you look to for inspiration in your faith-walk?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Investing Wisely

A week ago I was shopping at Sam's Club...there's so much in those places that would be cool to have, but you really don't need. While I was walking down an aisle, I noticed a recliner chair and looked for a moment at it. It didn't take long for my eyes to be drawn to the next shiny thing, but something caught my eye- so I looked again.
Squished between the seat cushion and the arm cushion was a $10 bill! I took the money out of the chair and looked around for someone looking at the ground...didn't see anyone, so I put it in my pocket and continued shopping. When I got to the front of the store, I asked for a manager. I told the manager where the money was when I found it and said that I doubt anyone would come looking for it. I had hardly finished my sentence when she told me, "No one usually does. People find money around here a lot and turn it in. It never gets claimed and we end up putting it into a charity fund for needy children."
I thought that was pretty cool. Then I thought about what I would have done with the money if I had kept it- blown it on iTunes, bought a new DVD, maybe get lunch at Chili's....but everything I thought of had one thing in common- ME! I was glad that I gave the money to the manager because hopefully it would go to someone that really needed it...and do more good than buy lunch, a movie, a CD...whatever.
As our nation braces for what seems to be an unavoidable financial crisis, what are you doing with your money? Are you saving it? Are you hoarding it? Who are you hoping your money will benefit? If you are the only person it is going to benefit, how much good is that money? I know that we all have bills to pay, some of us have families to feed, but the reality is that we could survive with A LOT less than we have/want. Are you investing in others?
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;" 1 Peter 5:2

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Disc Golf & God Part 2

"You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great." Psalm 18:35 (NIV)

A few weeks ago I played a round of disc golf with my good friend Russell Martin. After we finished the last hole, we decided to go to an open field and just throw some drives to each other. We're both average players, so we throw between 220ft-280ft on most throws...once in a while we'll throw a 300 footer or a 150 footer. So, we stood about 200-240ft away from each other and took turns throwing discs back and get more throwing by doing this because you chase your friend's throw 50ft rather than chasing your own 250ft!

I noticed something during that time- Russell was standing at a distance that was slightly less than the shortest holes on the course; so I relaxed and just tried to play problem, I kept overthrowing him! And I was throwing low and flat (this helps to get maximum distance by not wasting energy working against gravity or turning in the wrong direction). We talked about it a little while afterward and agreed that we felt like we threw better because we weren't trying to throw 300ft on every drive...we kept our mechanics in check and made smooth motions through each drive. We let the disc do the work instead of trying too hard.

In Part 1, I wrote about making an effort to connect to God in order to grow and see results. But sometimes we can try to force growth to happen, or think that what we do is the only thing that causes growth. We must understand that growth happens for us spiritually when we are working with God- just like great drives occur when I'm working with the disc, rather than trynig to muscle it as far as I can..the disc wants to glide, but when you throw too hard it becomes too much like a projectile and cannot glide.
How do you react when you're not seeing results in your spiritual growth? Do you try harder? Do you try to force progress? Maybe next time you should relax and let God take on a share of the work...remember, it's a relationship-there's more to the equation than just you!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Disc Golf & God Part 1

In the year 2000, my father opened a disc golf course in Rowlett, TX. I went with him to the grand opening ceremony...that was the first time I was ever exposed to the game of disc golf. Four years later, a friend that I was working with wanted to play a course, so I took him to the same course and played a round with him (and I played horribly enough for me not to try it again for a while). It wasn't until three years later that I was playing again with another friend. This time...I kinda got interested and bought three discs of my own...that was almost two years ago. In the past year and a half, I've adopted it as a hobby that helps me get outside, get excercise, and compete- three things I love to do.
For a while, I tried to play once a week...and sometimes I'd play twice a week. Last spring, I got really hooked on it and started watching videos online to help me get better, then I started buying more discs, then I bought a book and some magazines online. From one of these magazines, I found a website that had a blog that was devoted to helping disc golfers play better. The blog asked a well-known professional disc golfer to start a course to help people putt better. They had a formula, and a routine for practicing, and it was I decided to do it. The idea was to throw putts for 30 minutes a day, everyday.... no big secret to success, just practice, practice, practice.
For a few days, I was really good about getting out and doing my putting...I'd putt, then play a round of golf...but then, life got busy and I stopped doing my putting regularly. During the time I was doing my putting practice, my scores improved a lot, and when I stopped, my scores's a breakdown (for those who don't know golf scoring, PAR is good, under par ie: -3 is really good, and just above PAR is okay, but the goal is PAR or below)
In the month before I started the putting program, my scores averaged +6.6 over par. During the time I was putting regularly, my score improved to +3.6 over par...that's taking three fewer throws to finish 18 holes. And since I stopped doing my putting, my score has gone back to being +6.2 over par.
So what does this have to do with our relationship with God? Sometimes we think that making an effort to connect to God once a week is sufficient enough to grow in our relationship. But in reality, we need to continually seek more time with God. My scores improved because I put in an effort, and when I stopped, my scores showed my lack of effort. We often ask God to do things for us...but what God can't do for us is make us seek out time to get close to God. If you're feeling far from God and it's bothering you, perhaps it's time to start seeking God in your daily routine...see if you don't experience a difference!

Last note...quick math says that 30 minutes = a half-hour. There are 24 hours in a day, so 30 minutes equals 1/48 of a day. Many devotionals that are offered in stores or free online (like this one!) take 15 minutes or less...that equals 1/96...which is slightly more than 1% of a day. Do you think you could spare 1% of your time? Challenge: find a devotional, or talk to someone about a good book of the Bible to dive into for 1% of your day, everyday.

Check back on Thursday for Part 2 of Disc Golf & God