Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Breakfast Part 2

Far away but Close enough 

One of my son's favorite activities is swimming. If I didn't know better I would check his neck for gills. He has taken multiple swim lessons and swam in all sorts of pools. While on vacation, I took him to the pool at our resort. Decked in ninja turtle swim gear - he looked like a little sea ninja turtle without fins. 

Because we were on vacation, I had limited packing space so I left his arm floaties in Houston. But, I figured he was a strong enough swimmer to make it without them. At the pool, he swam pretty well. I stood by the pool’s side but let him venture out as far as his confidence would allow him. 

He was far enough to practice what he knew but close enough that he could still hear my voice. 

The Bible describes a moment when a mindful savior was close enough to save but far enough to teach.

“At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.”
John 21:4-6 NLT

Jesus had died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. The disciples were out fishing but their efforts were in vain. At their point of exhaustion, they hear a voice from an unrecoginzable source. Based on research, it cannot accurately be determined how long the figure was there. Yet when day broke - they heard a voice and saw a figure.

Point 1 -  God is here and He cares
There are moments that make us question if God really sees us. Truth is He promised to never leave us (Her 13:5) and He meant it. His silence does not denote His absence. God's voice of guidance and comfort can be masked by our toddler-type attitudes of “I got it” however,  when we get tired of unsuccessful toiling we will hear the help we so desperately need. 

Point 2 - You are closer than you think
Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to change their boat’s location. He instructed them to change the direction of their effort. It’s not that your calling/purpose  is wrong. God is showing you that there is a better way to get results. Small changes in how you work will greatly affect how your results will work out. 

Point 3 - Plan for a harvest
God doesn’t waste blessings. When He gives us a vision, He also gives provision. And, if God is providing He is also making sure that your net can sustain its increase. No one takes a small net for a large harvest. Even in the disciples' night of nothing they still used big nets because they expected a harvest. 

Lean in on this, I heard a seasoned fisherman say that a good angler never reveals his fishing hole. It  is comforting to know that we have a master fisherman who doesn’t keep secrets about our future success!

My son is a good swimmer but not as good as his father. Although he takes great pleasure in swimming, he has not perfected it. As I stood on the side of the pool cautiously watching him work and struggle, I offered a few adjustments to  that helped  him swim better. I believe Jesus stood on the shore not because He couldn’t walk on water and save the day but because he wanted to teach the disciples that abundant possibility was still available in a dry place if they refined their efforts and kept working. Jesus had done His work, it was their time to not only remain diligent but also maintain an open ear to divine instruction.

Are you still listening or have you given up? You can still win where you are!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Breakfast Part 1


A few weeks ago I attended a conference for youth leaders. I was amazed at the music, the graffiti, and the excitement of every individual that was there. Each session was filled with contemporary worship and dynamic teaching that challenged and inspired everyone in the room. 

One particular day, a poet walked on stage and commanded the crowd. With the backdrop of a full band that bounced colorful worship music off the walls of a packed auditorium, the poet stood still and spoke.

This simple yet powerful man spun words into sentences that tickled the ears and excited the conscious. Yet, there was a particular phrase that caught my attention and inspired this message.

With deep bravado, the poet held the mic closely and said, “When you increase your NETWORK, it will make your NETWORK, which will enhance your NETWORTH.

It rang loud and powerfully in my ear like the release of an air horn from a parent at their child’s high school graduation.

This is a message in three parts with a single theme of trusting God always.

Part 1

John 21:1-3

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.[a] This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[b] Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

Jesus endured an unfair trial, died on a cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and got up from the grave three days later. Yet, it was an additional 40 days before Jesus’ ultimate ascent. 

It was in those 40 days that Jesus made some incredible appearances. The Gospel of John tells of a time when the disciples were distraught over Jesus’ death and despondent over their next move. For three years they walked with Jesus witnessing miracles and loving the lost. Then their leader dies. The disciples disappear into their own seemingly unconquerable maze. The bible says that the disciples broke from their norm of ministry and within their own brokenness, went fishing.

What do you do when you experience a break in your plan? Where do you go when you don’t know where to go?

I met a kid who earned a full scholarship to play football. His tuition, his room and board - everything was covered. All he had to do was play ball when the season started.  In my head, he had arrived and could coast until the school year. Nevertheless, after the season ended and the scholarship papers were signed, he continued to put work in work at the gym. He told me about another guy who received a similar scholarship to a different school. The difference was that his friend took a break as soon as the season was on break. Eventually his friend decided he needed to get ready for college football a short time before for his first college practice. His pre-college workouts were tough, he was sick, and every experience left him sore and uncomfortable. 

Then, a thought hit me. Champions are made in the off season.

What we do when things are great is important however it is what we do and who we are in the lean/off season that will sustain and support us. 

The disciples didn’t go fishing to hide from their problems, they went fishing to stay active until Jesus shared His next move. Jesus loves a moving target and in order for our faith to be fulfilled we must work. I like to put it this way, “When opportunity knocks, it is our responsibility to open the door.” Dreams are great for sleep but the successful ones actualize their dreams by continuously working on them.

Here is the close for part 1. Set backs should not dictate your faith. In your area of uncertainty, the best thing to do is get busy. Occupy your actions with efforts that push you toward your goals. It is a theory I call, “habitual effort.” Practice success. Look for a way to win or learn despite the score board. Your time is coming - will you be ready?