Years of weather and wear were showing on our facility. We raised money to do exterior repairs, put on a fresh coat of paint and give the entire facility a facelift. But in a few short months, the cracks in the stucco that had been repaired returned. Support beams started cracking and crumbling more significantly than before and much of the work we had completed was for naught. We called in more construction experts and we were given some alarming and difficult news. The issues with our building were not just cosmetic. Our facility woes were the result of an inadequate and failing foundation. We had spent thousands of dollars on much needed exterior repairs, however, the exterior repairs would be worthless if we did not work on the issue that was unseen…a failing foundation. Read more!
Recently, I was able to check off another bucket list item. My wonderful wife, Jen, purchased a ticket for me to attend an NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 game to watch my beloved West Virginia Mountaineers. Although the outcome was not what I had hoped for, I had an incredible experience. As I watched I was reminded of the importance of a game plan.
Effectiveness and success in most endeavors requires thoughtful preparation and thorough planning. Sometimes success and effectiveness may happen unintentionally, accidentally, but most often success comes to those who have a carefully thought out game plan. A game plan is a strategy or a series of steps that a team must follow in order to be able to accomplish its goals. Read more!
This morning, I remembered an exercise in one of my doctoral classes. The professor gave the following instructions: “Students, get comfortable, close your eyes and get ready to think. I am going to set a timer for one minute and I want you to think about whatever you want with the exception of cotton candy. Do not think about cotton candy. Think about anything else you desire. Ready, set, go! Get to thinking!” Chuckles soon broke the silence in the classroom. Why? Well, guess what we started thinking about? Cotton candy of course.
This was a powerful illustration on how our minds work. When we try to suppress or subdue our thoughts we actually think more about those thoughts not less. Our thoughts are powerful and they shape our lives. Our thoughts influence how we feel and ultimately alter how we act. They form our realities, determine our values and define how we view others and ourselves. Read more!
I love the church. I have experienced numerous life-changing worship services and events. I have watched as followers take missional living seriously and they make lives and communities better by their presence. I have witnessed the positive impact that a unified church can have on communities locally and globally. As Bill Hybels has said on many occasions,
Nothing on earth has greater potential to change lives and carry out His kingdom work in your community, than your local church. There’s nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.
~ Bill Hybels
Jesus pointed out the lunacy of disunity by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). In John 17, Jesus was so concerned about unity he prayed for all who would believe in him (us) by saying, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (vv. 20-23, NIV).
Jesus’ point and prayer are poignant. Unity is critical for the people of God to be on mission and expand the Kingdom of God. Without unity progress can come to a screeching halt. Or disunity can make mission advancement so difficult that frustration runs high and health deteriorates to a point that many either quit trying, go to another church or leave the church all together. Read more!