Monday, June 30, 2008

Actual vs. Potential

Two words that you never really think much about: actual and potential. Simply defined:

"Actual" - "presently existing in fact and not merely potential or possible."

"Potential" - "the inherent capacity for coming into being."

Taken at face value, we say, "Yeah, I knew that." But the implications of these two words can be profoundly life altering. Think about them when applied to people. Actual is what you are at the moment. It's the realized reality of all you've done. There's no changing what has actually come to pass. There's no changing what has become actual. It's done.

Potential, however, is all that could be from here forward. It can be a great word when we say, "That guy HAS great potential!" But when accompanied with one's actual, potential can be a horrible word: "That guy HAD great potential." See, our actual impacts our potential. I would even submit that as life goes on, your potential diminishes while your actual increases. At birth, we are 100% potential and 0% actual. At mid-life, we are 50% potential and 50% actual. Near death, we are just about 0% potential and 100% actual. John the Baptist understood this, stating that it was time for him to fade out and let Jesus take the scene. Jesus Himself realized this as we read John 13. His time was coming to a close, and it was time to show them the full extent of His love. I think it's this truth (although usually unknowingly) that drives people into "mid-life crisis." The thought sinks in, "I have accomplished so little and have such a short time's time to do all those things I feel like I've wanted to do. Or at least to live life more fully with what I've got left." The counseling theory here is that a mid-life crisis is an unresolved fear of death and failure...but that's for another blog.

I bring all of this up to share a way to multiply your potential as it actually diminishes! I'm not a fan of math. I'm not current on math principles or trig, or anything else that could be hip about math. But I do understand multiplication, and am convinced that when you take whatever potential you have left and invest in those with potential, you increase their potential exponentially. If I am at mid-life (and at age 38, that's a reality if I live to be 76), and have 50% of my potential left, I can invest my energy and my future in my son, who at age 8 is still 90% potential. If I wisely invest what's left of my life in others, I can raise their potential, and in doing do I increase my potential, too! My youth pastor, Bart McMillan, once told me that the greatest investment you'll ever make is investing in people. Little did I know at the time that he was handing me the key to real success. No matter how long I live, if I will invest my energy in those around me, everyone's future gets brighter. Rather than being depressed or alarmed at how little life you have left, invest it in people and be amazed at what God will do with it. And be amazed at what God will do with you.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Loss of a Friend

The Laseman family attended THF with us. Justin, mentioned below, and his brother, Jacob, have been on youth trips with us. I am saddened by the loss and ask you to join me in praying for Sheri and Jacob.

From The Lubbock Online web site (our local news site):
The motorcycle deaths of father and son Danny and Justin Laceman on Thursday add to an increasing number of motorcycle fatalities over the past three years, something that concerns hospital workers as the summer months arrive.

Typically there are more motorcycles on the road during the summer, and “people have got to watch for motorcycles,” said Lubbock Police Capt. James Shavers.

"There is no way to predict a motorcycle accident," he said. “You have to assume they don’t see you.”

Laceman was driving the motorcycle around 9:15 a.m. Thursday, headed east on 82nd Street as he approached Milwaukee Avenue. At the same time, Laurie Cromeenes, 33, was traveling west, police said.

That’s when Cromeenes, who was driving a 2005 Chevy Tahoe with a 5-year-old and 2-year-old in the rear, tried to turned left onto Milwaukee and the vehicles collided.

Pieces of glass and parts of the Harley Davidson littered the ground in the busy intersection.

Shavers said police are still investigating the accident and have not filed any charges.

The two children inside the Tahoe were taken to Covenant Medical Center by ambulance with minor injuries.

Danny, 43, and Justin Laceman, 14, were taken to UMC by ambulance. Police said Justin was wearing a helmet, his father was not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Boston Stryper...Styper Boston...Bostyper? Strypton?

I just got a text from McMinn that the legendary rock band, Boston, is playing in the D/FW area tonight...And sure enough they are. But the shocker is who their frontman is these days. Have you ever heard of Stryper? How about Michael Sweet, Stryper's founder and former front man? That's right, kids! I got this from Boston's web site:

The legendary band BOSTON will headline the outdoor festival at Marina Park on Friday, June 6 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The show kicks off a summer of stadium, concert and festival dates that will span the United States and Canada. Seasoned Stryper frontman Michael Sweet and new fan phenom Tommy DeCarlo join BOSTON veterans Jeff Neal, Kimberley Dahme, Gary Pihl and of course, Tom Scholz on stage this summer. Gary, the longest reigning member of BOSTON next to Tom, joined the band in 1985 to help complete “Third Stage,” and through his efforts, the band reemerged in 1987 for the Third Stage Tour, which set stadium records across the US.


Monday, June 16, 2008

The Anit-marketers

I was speaking with a local business owner last night that I met at a community event a few weeks back. We actually met at this local free concert series in the park down the street. He was there handing out advertisements for his shop while we were handing out water to the thirsty folks. After the concert last night, some of The Journey went out to eat, as we do every week after The Gathering. As we were finishing up, the business owner was there, too, and stopped by our table on his way out to ask what our "angle" is. Now, those weren't his words, but my summary of a 2 minute conversation. He wanted to truly know how we were planning to get those people into our church. He seemed stunned when I said, "We're not planning to get those people into our church." He just kinda stared at me. After the dazed look melted away, he wanted to know why were handing out water. This seems to be a hard concept to grasp in our western, money/resource based mind set. "Why would you spend money on people and not ask for something in return?" seems to be the real question. I assured him that we love the people at the park, and hope that they will come to Christ, but that our real goal was to be kind and show love unconditionally.

[ASIDE: Last night we even added a twist to the routine. We brought a box of Milkbone Dog Biscuits since so many people bring their dogs to the park for the concert. My daughter LOVES dogs, and she would take treats to the dogs while we brought water to the people. (By the way, a box of smaller Milkbone Biscuits is about $4.00, so there's really no overhead there. But we've discovered that dog lovers love people who love their dogs. They receive love by having their pets loved, too, so this is just another way to love people.)]

While most business owner's goals are to get them into their shop, our goal is to be Jesus in their lives. That seemed to just stun the local business owner. He even said something to the effect of, "Most churches would at least hand out a flier about themselves and capitalize on the marketing." Exactly. And that's fine for them. But it's not what God asked us to do. God asked us to go love thirsty people by giving them a drink of water.

[Sidebar] In three weeks, we are planning a cookout for the ENTIRE community. We're expecting to feed around 500 people. And the following week we are going to do a kid's club in the park every day from 9 a.m. to Noon with crafts, recreation, Bible story, and snow cones. Because we love Jesus and love our community, we are free to expect nothing in return. Rather, we get to lavish our love, resources, and life on Jesus by pouring ourselves onto people.

The business owner just kinda stood their again, thought for a second, and said, "So, you're like the anti-marketers?" Well, no. We are pro kindness. I told him again that our goal is to let people know they are loved and we are here to serve with no strings attached. He just kinda nodded, and walked away as he said, "Cool. I'll see you guys next week." I hope he understood, but don't think he did. But he will. And now we have another person to love and another person to serve. We just have to discover how to serve him and show him love. It's an exciting thing to be odd. It's like that line from the end of "The Incredibles."

TONY : You look different.
VIOLET : I feel different. Is different okay?
TONY : Hey, different is...[clears throat] Different is great.

Yeah, he's right. Different is GREAT. And I'm loving it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Roy on Discipleship

My friend and great thinker, Roy, has some great thoughts on Discipleship. You can read more at his blog. Here's something from his site.

"How did Jesus go about transforming a raw, interesting, diverse group of men from non-awareness to developed disciples? Reading the gospels, I came across several, repeated actions.

  • Teaching. Jesus had an agenda of significant themes that had to be discussed. Sometimes, he initiated. Other times, he took His cue from the disciples' conversations or behaviors.
  • Talking. The goal of talking is to relate, to express, to get to know someone. To be transformed, we need both formal and informal talk. Requirements without relationship won't produce lasting disciples.
  • Time. Jesus walked over 5000 miles with the disciples. He ate around 3800 meals with them. Do you think their relationships deepened after all that eating, walking, and talking? Some parts of discipleship are better caught than taught.
  • Trouble. Jesus used negative situations and turned them into teachable moments. He warned His guys about pending dangers. He prepared them for difficulty. Jesus didn't train His friends to expect a sterilized, sanitized world of fluff and puff.
  • Thinking. Jesus asked the best questions. He knew how to get to the "what" and "why" of an issue. His provocative questions helped prepare the disciples for their purpose. Jesus knew behaviors and thoughts are linked together.
  • Time-Out. Jesus laughed. He went to parties. He attended weddings. He enjoyed being with his friends. There should be room in discipleship for just fun. Is it possible more transformation could happen over ice cream at Friendly's than at Bible study one week?
  • Tasks. Jesus gave both simple and detailed assignments. He debriefed the disciples when they returned. What did they see? What did they learn?
Are there any items you think should be added to the list?"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We were spotted.

Our local newspaper has a community photo site called "You Were Spotted." They "caught" us handing out free water at a local community event.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Week Without Distractions

We just got back from Youth Camp, and God definately had His way with our group. He saved 7 and led another 5 to be baptized in obedience to His desire for their lives. Out of the 22 kids we took, 12 made public decisions, and the others made life-changing/habit changing decisions. It was a GREAT week. To quote a close friend, "I love my life."