John Maxwell: Build Your Dream Conference 2009, WPB


Headed to North Florida, but wanted to give you a heads up on next week:

John Maxwell will be doing a one day seminar at our church again this year. The conference is called “Build Your Dream Conference 2009” He will be focusing on his latest book, Put Your Dream to the Test.  I’ll be there all day blogging and twittering, but if anyone is in the area, come on down! This annual John Maxwell day is one of the beautiful parts of having him on our teaching staff! I learned my lesson last year, however…parking will be a bear.

Are any of you reading John’s new book? John has a twitter topic going to share inspiring dream quotes and comments. You can find it by searching in Twitter on #dreamtest. John also Twitters at @johncmaxwell.

Pastor Tom Mullins, West Palm Beach FL: Pursuing Gold

What makes a champion?

I don’t often blog about our weekend services at Christ Fellowship, not only because I’ve been traveling so much but also because Dave Helbig, Kerry Mackey and now James Duvall are in a better position to represent our church. Last night, however, Pastor Tom Mullins reminded me of his best friend John Maxwell, who is a teaching pastor here as well. His sermon focused on Olympic Gold, and what makes up a champion’s identity. The questions Tom asked put heart back into me and picked me up from the battlefield. So I decided to share them, briefly, with you.

What defines you? Are there experiences — good or bad — that define you? People? A Job?

Champions are NOT defined by…

  • Fears: “Extreme fear can neither fight nor fly” — William Shakespeare
  • Failure: “Failure is not falling down: it is remaining there when you have fallen.” — Unknown
  • Former Successes: “You can never ride on the wave that went out yesterday.” — John Wanamaker

Rather, our identity in Christ is what focuses us on the life God wants us to live. Philippians 3:14 reminds us that we should forget what is behind and strain towards what is ahead. For me, that was the moment when God stepped into that sermon and spoke to me. Humans have a tendency to get stuck in the mud of our failures, but we’re supposed to forget the past and instead STRAIN toward the future that God has for us. We can be set free from the weight of both our failures and our successes, which can equally weigh us down. This changes everything. Pastor told us that before he left on his recent trip overseas, John Maxwell sat down with Billy Graham for an hour or so, one on one. Always learning from the past, John asked Dr. Graham about the great crusades and move of God he’d been a part of. Dr. Graham — at his age of 90 ish — said, “John, I don’t want to think about the past. I want to talk about the future.” Wow.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for thoe who are in Christ Jesus. — Romans 8:1

I leave you with the three points Pastor threw in at the end of his message.

  1. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing.
  2. Nothing can overpower your life — you are God’s.
  3. Nothing can prevent God’s plan from unfolding.

You can find Pastor’s message on our website here, or look Christ Fellowship up in iTunes.

How to Live with Uncertainty

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day Chapter 5

Presumptuous blog title, no? How to live with uncertainty. Nevertheless, that’s what Chapter Five of In a Pit is teaching in no uncertain terms. Uncertainty is a part of life…maybe even the best part of life. Benaiah had no clue he was going to chase a lion the morning he woke up and changed his destiny. And once the chase was on, Benaiah had no guarantee of a checkmark in the win column. And neither do we. So how do we embrace the uncertainty that God has built into life?

  1. Tolerate interruptions. 90% of the time it is the unexpected, unimagined twist on our day and on our life that reveals God’s fingerprint. Yesterday it was the unexpected moment in the bar that gave me the framework to evaluate the whole crazy patchwork of my day. Viewing those 15 minutes cooling my heals waiting for food as an interruption in my plan would have robbed me of that insight. I am not particularly good at this process, by the way. In fact, one of the ironies of this post is that as I was writing a college friend of mine was instant messaging with me while he sat in an (apparently) uninspiring class, my computer froze necessitating a conversation with a mac-using neighbor at the next table, my husband called wanting to meet me at a different coffee shop, and the barista at the second coffee shop sat down for an extended conversation with us about life, faith, what he wants to do with his life and how to get there. Yes, they were interruptions to this post, but they were the point of my day!
  2. Be counterintuitive. The way God works in one life or church is seldom the way he works in another. If your mental map of “how God works” is modeled on someone else, you need to break that mold. Batterson writes, “Regardless of your vocational calling or relational status you have to do something counterintuitive if you want to reach your God-given potential and fulfill your God-given destiny. Sometimes you have to run away from security and chase uncertainty.” My life is filled with uncertainties, as is yours. I am going to cultivate the discipline of looking at them as opportunities, trying to find the counterintuitive approach.
  3. Prepare. Batterson uses the example of the Day of Pentecost. The disciples didn’t plan Pentecost; they weren’t even aware that it was coming. All of it was an interruption, an uncertainty. But they had prepared themselves for Pentecost by fasting, praying, being where God needed them. The chapter asks us what would happen if instead of spending all our energy planning events for God and telling him how we need him to work, if instead we spent that energy seeking after God. You can’t plan Pentecost, but you can be prepared.
  4.  View complications as blessings. While sometimes the complications in our lives can come as a result of wrong choices, most of the time they arise as a result of the good things we do in our lives. My complications come from my elderly mother, my growing kids or having too many great choices of activity in my life. These are blessings, all. Remember the parable of the talents? The reward for doing your work well was…more work. And so it is today. I was frustrated by the complications of arranging my family’s summer travel schedule last week, until I remembered what a blessing it is to have three nieces and nephews who love me and are getting happily and wonderfully married this summer.
  5. Rest. Above all I am trying to remember that God has a plan, and he is working his plan. I can rest in that. Mark Batterson tells the story of the untimely death of his father-in-law. In the aftermath of that grief, he would often find himself sighing with a grieving, overwhelmed heart. During this time he took to heart the verse in Psalms which says, “Give hear to my words, O Lord. Consider my sighing.” God hears our sighing – those moments of overwhelming burden – and interprets them as prayers. That thought has helped me a lot as a sigh escapes me. I know that my sigh represents all the uncertainty in my life: the knowledge that I have no idea what the right course to take is, the worry over my famiy’s choices, the unknown variables that my job sometimes means I must plan for. My sigh represents the unknown regarding all these things, and God hears it as a prayer. This is good.

One metaphor from this chapter encouraged a new attitude in my daily life this week. I am going to write my life in pencil, and make sure it has a good eraser. How about you?

Success by Facing Your Fears

There are days when I sit down on my chair on the back porch and God whispers in the breezes that float across the pool. There are times I am walkng through a crowded mall and God troubles something inside, and causes me to pay attention to what He has to say. And then there are times I pick up a book and it seems as if God has written down words through the author just for me. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day was God’s clarion call to me. “I love you. I know you are in a pit, and there are scary eyes staring at you. I’m going to do something great with that Lion and you. Hold tight.” From the first chapter I realized that God was trying to get my attention and speak comfort into my life through this book. How amazing is that?

The premise of “In a Pit” is this: In 2 Samuel 23: 20,21 a man named Benaiah chases a lion, who falls into a pit. Benaiah should have been running away…this is a lion, after all. But he doesn’t. He jumps into the pit with the lion. On the surface this looks like the wrong time and the wrong place. But it isn’t. Benaiah kills that lion. Later he is promoted through King David’s army as bodyguard and captain of the guard. That lion – which looked like Benaiah’s greatest nightmare – was his resume. God uses the “lions” in our life to build into us the character we need for the jobs He has planned for us. In other words, as Mark Batterson says, God is in the resume building business!

So here are the questions I am processing as a result of the first chapter of this book.
• If God puts us where we need to be, what does that say about where I am right now? I really do feel like there are lions circling around me in my life, and they scare me. I am trying to realize that being scared is the right reaction to a lion, but that doesn’t mean God wants to take the lion out of my life. He wants to use it to build my resume. Wow.
• What am I trying to put off to a better time? You know how this one goes. “I will do that for you, God, I will. But right now there is a lion I need to run away from. When I am safe and cozy back at the palace I will turn my attention to that.” What if God wants us to deal with that issue right now, in the pit with the scary lion? Maybe now is the opportunity that won’t be around later.
• What is already on my resume? What are the lions that I have already dealt with that God wants to use right now? God doesn’t waste learning experiences, and I need to reevaluate my past to identify the current opportunities.
• If I have the guts to face my lion, will I give the glory to God? No guts, no glory! Benaiah used that lion experience to later serve his king. Will I?
• How is my stewardship of my lion experiences? Am I using the imagination God has built into me? My mind? My hospitality? Stewardship of money is easy. Stewardship of my creativity? Now that take some thinking.

Finally, Mark Batterson unknowingly quoted my father by saying “Success is doing the best you can with what you have where you are.” Sure, down the road five or ten years we may be able to face the same lion with a different set of skills. But right now, in this place, God wants us to do the best we can with what you have. I can do that.