#514 - WHAT HOSTING MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF TAUGHT ME ABOUT GOD

This past Sunday, our church had the privilege of welcoming the Mayor of Oakland - Libby Schaaf, into our Sunday service. Above and beyond her just joining us for service, we also had the opportunity to hear about some of her goals for the city and how we can pray for her as she endeavors to do the same thing that we as a church are endeavoring to do: overwhelm Oakland with love.

But as great of an opportunity as hosting the mayor was, I think even greater were the lessons that hosting the mayor taught me about God:

1. GOD CAN BLESS IN AN INSTANT.

We got the call on a Monday. She was sitting in our service the following Sunday! The crazy thing is, this was not an opportunity our church was pursuing! This was not an opportunity I had been seeking. This was not a goal our staff had set out to accomplish. But, God can bless in an instant.

Regardless of whether or not a blessing is in your plans, when a blessing is in His plans, it can happen instantaneously! 

God can create more momentum, favor, and blessing in a moment, than we can create in a lifetime. The question this forces me to ask myself is this: Do I live my life with an eager expectation of the next instantaneous blessing of God?

2. GOD'S WAYS SUPERSEDE OUR WISDOM.

From the moment we arrived in Oakland, having a positive impact on the city was our desire. Having favor among the civic leaders was our hope. Being known as a church who was in the city, for the city was our aim. But, our knowledge on how to make that happen was limited. Our connections were few. Our influence was small. On our best day, we could have never positioned ourselves to have the mayor of Oakland be interested in our church! But, God's ways supersede our wisdom.

God can have a "way" about causing His plans to come to fruition, that far exceed any idea or plan that we can even conceive!

Not only was the visit of the mayor an instantaneous blessing, but after getting off of a phone call with her office this morning, I am seeing how it was also a connection that will lead us to more opportunities to serve the city than we could have ever created for ourselves. The question this forces me to ask myself is this: Am I limiting how God will accomplish His purposes through me to my wisdom or am I humbly seeking His ways?

3. GOD IS HONORED BY HONOR.

Regardless of the mayor's political positions. Regardless of the mayor's religious beliefs. Regardless of the mayor's policies. (Most of which I am not very well acquainted.) We thanked her. We applauded her. We listened to her. We prayed for her. Why? Because, God is honored by honor.  

Honor is not something that people in positions of leadership have to earn. Honor is something that followers of Christ are privileged to give. And God is pleased when we do.

And as we were honoring the mayor, I felt the pleasure of God on our church. I knew we were doing the right thing. I was convinced that extending honor is honorable to God. The question this forces me to ask myself is this: Who am I dishonoring?      

God can bless in an instant.
God's ways supersede our wisdom.
God is honored by honor.

Is the way we are currently living our lives reflecting our belief in these three truths about the nature of God?

#513 - LOVE AND LEAD WITH THIS IN MIND

Over the last several weeks, I have been convinced of a sobering reality that, if I allow it to have the impact on me that it should, I am confident will improve my ability to love and lead more effectively.

The sobering reality is this:

Most people have a smile on their face that is not an accurate reflection of the heaviness of their heart.  

The pressure at work is heavier.
The challenge of parenting is harder.
The difficulty in marriage is higher.

Love and lead with this in mind. 

The pain from the past is deeper. 
The confusion about the present is stronger.
The fear about the future is greater.

Love and lead with this in mind. 

The lies of self-doubt are louder.
The voice of God is quieter.
The ability to see truth is cloudier. 

Love and lead with this in mind.  

The journey through life that most people are traveling has way more struggles and difficulties than they ever imagined having to face. 

They are more tired. They are more weary. They are more discouraged. They are more frustrated. They are more hopeless. They are more confused. They are more "over it." - than they have led you to believe. 

Don't allow the facade to fool you. The level of brokenness that exists in the people that we interact with day in and day out is much more real than we think.    

Love and lead with this in mind. 

It may make all the difference in regards to whether or not your love and leadership in their life can make a difference.  

#512 - WISDOM FROM GREG POPOVICH

Though I am a very faithful and committed Warriors fan and fully expect the Warriors to beat the San Antonio Spurs tonight to lock in a third NBA Finals appearance in the last 3 years, today, I read an article about the culture of the San Antonio Spurs in which Popovich shared what I believe to be some very wise thoughts. Popovich stated that the primary question in player evaluation for the San Antonio Spurs was...

Has this person gotten over himself?
— Greg Popovich

He would go onto say... 

"He should take pride in the work, but shouldn't be prideful. I have a problem with proud."

Whether you are a leader of a team or a member of a team, I think these are wise thoughts to consider. Here are several questions you can ask yourself to see if you have "gotten over yourself."

  1. Have you placed the mission of the team ahead of the furthering of your career?
  2. Do you desire for the team to win more than you desire to personally succeed?
  3. Can you be genuinely happy for a teammate's success even if it overshadows your contribution?
  4. If the team is advancing, but you aren't receiving the amount of recognition or notoriety that you would like, can you still enjoy being on the team?
  5. Is your primary concern your prominence or the team's effectiveness?
  6. What would you rather be remembered as, a great player or a great teammate?

I think that these are very important questions that we should all be willing to ask ourselves. There are too many examples of "players" who never reached their potential because of an unwillingness to "get over themselves." 

Let's not let that be our story. 

#511 - 3 THOUGHTS THAT MAKE PATIENCE POSSIBLE

I know. You're ready. You were ready 6 months ago. For the business to take off. For the idea to gain traction. For the opportunity to arrive. For the significant other to notice you. For "your time" to come.

I know how you feel.

It always seems like everyone else's time has come. It always seems like everyone but you is operating in the fullness of their gifts and abilities. It always seems like people who haven't worked as hard as you are getting the breaks you know you deserve.   

But here you are, still waiting. I wish I could tell you why you find yourself still waiting but, I can't.

What I can do is share with you three thoughts that encourage me when it seems like God is trying to lodge the lesson of patience deep within my being

1. GOD'S TIMING IS PERFECT.

Whenever God has poured out another measure of blessing, opportunity, or favor in my life, it has always been at the perfect time. It comes right when I need it. It comes right when others can benefit from it. It comes right when God can be most glorified by it. 

If I do not currently have the opportunity, influence, or impact I desire, it is because, right now, it is not in the best interests of myself, those around me, or the Kingdom of God for me to have what I want.

2. MY HEART NEEDS PURIFYING.

Why am I so anxious anyways? Am I not grateful for the opportunities I already have been given? (Ingratitude) Do I think I am more capable than I actually am? (Pride) Do I think time is running out? (Worry) Am I assuming that I know something that God doesn't? (Arrogance)

Nothing more clearly reveals the condition of your heart towards others and towards God than how you respond when you don't get what you think you deserve.

3. IS GOD NOT ENOUGH?

Is His love for me unable to fulfill? Is His grace for me insufficient to satisfy? Is His presence in my life incapable to comfort? Is my view of God's goodness only tied to God's gifts?

If so, this is a problem. If so, I have made an idol of the wrong things. If so, I've got it all backwards. 

The truth is, if Christ alone is not enough for me, nothing ever will be. 

What if God is withholding what He is withholding from you because He wants to strengthen your trust in His sovereignty, purify your heart, and become enough for you? Wouldn't those be great reasons? Shouldn't those be reasons you appreciate? Couldn't those be reasons that give you the willingness to joyfully persevere in patiently and humbly following Him?

#510 - INEFFECTIVE REPENTANCE

You want your repentance to work, right? You want your repentance to be effective in making you right before a Holy God, correct? If so, there is something very important that you need to understand: 

Regret is not repentance.

Regret is primarily sorrow for the pain you've brought upon yourself. Regret is disappointment for how your actions have negatively impacted you. Regret is wishing you would have done something different so you could have experienced a different result. Regret is all about you.

Repentance is something totally different. 

Repentance is sorrow for the pain you've brought upon God. Repentance is disappointment for your sins against God. Repentance is wishing you would have done something different so that God would have been pleased rather than grieved. Repentance is all about God.  

Regret is about your ego. Repentance is about God's glory.
Regret is about your image. Repentance is about God's majesty.
Regret is about your circumstances. Repentance is about God's kingdom.

Regret is all about you. Repentance is all about God.

Godly sorrow produces repentance and reformation, and will end in salvation; but worldly sorrow worketh death.
— Matthew Henry

Regret makes you mad. Repentance makes you humble.
Regret draws you inward. Repentance points you upward.
Regret causes frustration. Repentance births faithfulness.

Regret is an expression of the self while repentance is a work of the Spirit. 

Are you regretful or are you repentant?

Leaning into the former will only bring you grief while committing yourself to the latter will surely bring you grace.  

Choose repentance.

Choose being broken over breaking the heart of God.
Choose experiencing sorrow for bringing God sorrow.
Choose feeling pained by the pain you've made God feel. 

Choose repentance.  

GRACE AWAITS.