Missing Our Mission?

Are we missing our mission? And by that I mean are we, as Christ followers, forgetting that our primary mission is to introduce others to Jesus? There is more to it than that as we grow, but if we try to make it as simple as we can, we should be living in such a way that we are able to share Jesus with other people.

Their acceptance or rejection of Jesus is then up to them. That’s not on us. But what is on us is sharing His love with all those that we can. As I look around our world today, however, I’m afraid that the answer to my first question is a resounding ‘YES’! We are missing our mission. But before I go any further, let’s take a look at some of Jesus’ last words, both before and after His crucifixion.

After washing His disciples’ feet and commanding them through His own actions to become servants, Jesus added what He called a “new command”. John records it this way in John 13:34-35:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

People will know you are Christ followers by the way you love one another.  That’s basically what Jesus is getting at here. Pretty simple.  William Barclay, in his commentary on this passage added some good information. Jesus is calling His disciples to love each other as Christ has loved them. In other words, for us, it is a call to love those we come in contact with, especially other Christ followers, the way that Christ has loved us.

But how has Christ loved? Barclay added four ways that Christ has loved us; Selflessly, sacrificially, understandingly, and forgivingly. That’s how we are to love one another if we want to be known as His followers.

Then, on the mountainside after His resurrection, just before ascending to Heaven, Jesus leaves us with His final command.  Matthew records it in chapter 28, and most of us know it as “The Great Commission”. These are His final words to His disciples, and it is a command that is passed to us as Christ followers. Verses 18-20 read:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Sharing Christ with others, making disciples, and baptizing them into Christ. That’s our mission. It’s not complicated, although, I think we make it complicated. One note, baptizing others is something we are commanded, and we get caught up on that, however, we miss another essential part of this command. Making disciples. That means helping others grow in their relationship with Christ. Christ followers make other Christ followers.

But back to my first question. Are we hitting this mission? Maybe to some degree, but I have to admit, my heart aches as I continue to watch Christians rip each other apart because they interpret passages from the Bible differently than one another. I am a part of a few different minister and restoration movement pages on social media. Instead of encouraging one another, what I see more often is attack after attack.

I’m all for a good debate. Debate is healthy. But what I see all too often is the attitude of “I am right and there is no room for anyone to disagree with me. If you disagree with me you are completely WRONG, and therefore are less of a Christ follower than I”. And let me just say this: I am sick of it.

Disciples make other disciples

We are called to make disciples. You can’t make disciples if you are not a disciple yourself. Disciples make other disciples or Christ followers make other Christ followers. Remember what Jesus said in John 13. I’m paraphrasing, “Love one another as I have loved you. By your love they will know you are My disciple”. How did Jesus love us? Selflessly, sacrificially, understandingly, and forgivingly.


What I am seeing from other Christ followers is anything but loving one another. And I’m talking to both sides of the debate. Most recently it has been over the topic of “women in leadership”. I’m not going to get into the debate. I’ve got friends and respected minds on both sides of the issue. For my purpose today, however, where you land on this topic is not the important part. It’s how you choose to present your interpretation.

We should be better than the world around us!

We focus so much on our differences. We are saturated by that in out culture today. It’s not just in the Church. But we should be better than the world around us! None of us are going to have it all figured out correctly. And we’re never going to agree 100% with anyone. But just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean that you can just completely rip them apart either.

I’ll wrap up with this. Again, I’m talking to both sides of any debate, especially debates among Christ followers.

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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Living in a Small Town

Canton CC logoWe’ve been in Canton, OK for almost three weeks now.  To say that it is a small town would almost be an understatement.  When we decided to move here, I really believed that I would like it, but that it would take some time to adjust.  I was a little off in my belief though.

I absolutely love it here.  Living in a small town is different than most places I’ve been, but I feel right at home.  It is amazing to me how this community is a true community.  We watch out for one another.  We speak to one another in town.  It really seems that people genuinely care for one another.

Let me tell you about a couple of our experiences so far.  There is a grocery store here in town, which means we don’t have to drive 30 miles to the nearest Walmart all the time.  Kelley and I went shopping the other day to get some groceries.  We were getting enough that we needed a buggy.  When we got up to the checkout, there was a high school age girl working.  She checked us out and then did something that completely blew my mind.  She didn’t even ask.  She picked up all our grocery bags and started out the door with them.  The only question she asked was where we were parked.

I had never had that happen before.  Most stores will help you take your things out if you ask, but this was different.  I’ve been in a few other times to get a few things, and when I tell them that I can take my things out myself, they almost insist on doing it for you. 

Yesterday was probably the most eventful day that we’ve had since the move.  We had our normal church activities in the morning, went to lunch with a couple from the church, and then was back at the church by 2 for a retirement reception for the previous minister here.  This was open to the entire community, not just those that attend church with us.  And this community did not disappoint.  For two solid hours people came and went, congratulating Steve and Betty, and welcoming Kelley and I to the community.  And it didn’t matter if they went to church here or not, they were genuinely excited to meet us and welcome us.

Here’s my point.  This is what true Christian community should look like.  If you are a Christ follower, then we are all on the same team.  It doesn’t matter if you go to the Christian Church, the Baptist Church, or whatever church.  One of my favorite statements about the Restoration Movement is “We are not the only Christians, but we are Christians only.”  We are all in this together, and in a small town in Oklahoma, I’m starting to see that actually play out.  Is it perfect?  No, because we are human and we will never reach perfection this side of Heaven.  But when a Christian Church minister and a First Baptist Church minister can sit down with their spouses around a dinner table and talk for hours, I think we’re headed in the right direction.

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God is Always Faithful: Times of Transition

You may have noticed that I have been unusually silent on Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak.  Life has been a little hectic to say the least over the last couple of months.  With all the craziness, however, one thing has remained perfectly clear.  God’s plan and timing so perfect, especially when we don’t understand exactly what is going on.

At the beginning of July, I was informed that my job in Carlsbad would be ending at the end of the month.  Around the same time that that happened, I was contacted by two different churches asking me to come visit with them for potential preaching positions.  We worked out the details to travel to these two church beginning in August and began fervently praying that God would open the doors to where He had in store for us next.

Well, God never disappoints.  I knew that in my head, but I also knew that His timing is not always when we want things.  I was preparing myself for the possibility that I would not step directly into another ministry position right away.  But this time, God had different plans. 

These past couple of months have been an whirlwind of emotion as we have said goodbye to friends and the town that we have called home for the last three years, and as we have moved to Canton, Oklahoma to begin preaching at Canton Christian Church.  Canton CC logoWhile I understand God’s faithfulness to us, I am absolutely blown away at how quickly He led us here to Canton.  We arrived in town just under a week ago, and I preached this past Sunday to officially begin my ministry here.

 

I don’t know what you are going through.  Times are tough and life has a way of throwing curve ball after curve ball at us.  Don’t lose hope.  God’s timing and plan is perfect.  He has proven that to me over and over again.  If you are going through something that you need prayer to help keep you focused on God, please reach out to me or someone else you trust.  I would be honored to pray with and for you.  Above all, never lose sight of the fact that God loves you!  Life is never promised to be easy, but it is worth it when we follow Him with our whole lives. 

As I get settled in here in Canton, I plan on trying to get back to regularly posting.  I’ve missed writing the last couple of months as life has just been crazy.  As my wife said after this past Sunday, “The best is yet to come!”

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Defending the Faith Conference

--How do you stand up for truth in a word gone mad--

I wrote a bit of a teaser for it yesterday, but as promised, I want to tell you about Guadalupe Christian Camp’s upcoming “Defending the Faith Conference”.  This is the first annual apologetics conference that the camp is going to be hosting on July 29-31, and I would absolutely love for you to join us.  Let me get some housekeeping issues out of the way.  If you are interested, make your plans now, because there are only a few days left for the early bird rate of $45 per person.  After July 3, the price goes up to $55 per person.  All you need to do to register is to contact David Shaw at dcshaw529@gmail.com, letting him know how many will be joining your party.  Then you pay when you get to the camp on Saturday. 

How do you stand up for truth in a world gone mad?!

So let me pose a question.  “How do you stand up for truth in a world gone mad?!”  That’s exactly the question that we are going to be trying to walk through during the main sessions and the Q&A times throughout the event.  And that is one of the most important and relevant questions that we as Christ followers need to answer in our own lives.  We have to be ready to give a defense of our faith at a moments notice.  That doesn’t mean that we have to have all the answers.  That would be impossible.  But we need to be prepared.  In fact, Paul challenges Timothy with that specifically.  In II Timothy 4:2-4, Paul writes the following to Timothy;

2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Verses 3 and 4 sound like Paul was looking directly into our time.  There is no absolute truth anymore, according to the society we live in.  There are many ways to God, and the fact that Christianity claims to be the only way to God is insensitive…or at least that’s what the world around us is screaming at the top of its lungs.  All paths lead to God.  Well, if you are a Christ follower, then you know that that is not what Jesus taught.  Jesus made a very bold claim in John 14:6-7.  He said;

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Like I said, that is a bold claim.  But Jesus backed that claim up by going to the cross and God raising Him from the dead.  We have to stand firm.  We have to be bold.  We know the truth: Jesus is the only way to God.  But we have to speak that truth in love.  That’s what we are going to be discussing in this inaugural event held at Guadalupe Christian Camp.  I, along with three other area preachers, will be presenting on a variety of different topics.  Stephen B, a Christian comedian will also be there on Saturday night presenting his comedy routine.  This promises to be a great weekend, and we would love to have you join us.  The camp is located at 56 Christian Camp Road, Carlsbad, NM  88220, about an hour outside of Carlsbad. 

Let’s come together, and answer the question.  “How do you stand up for truth in a world gone mad?!”

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Refreshed and Refocused

I’ve been absent for a little while.  My apologies for that.  But I was working a week of church camp last week at Guadalupe Christian Camp for Jr. and Sr. High students.  While I had access to internet there, I felt my time was more valuable investing in the week there instead of trying to write for “Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak”.  I mean, I had to write a sermon while I was there anyway, so I didn’t take anymore time for this.

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It was a great week.  We had 38 teenagers and quite a few adults from West Texas and Southeast New Mexico that attended the week, and I do believe that lives were changed.  We had a speaker from Illinois that blew it out of the water, as well as a Christian band from El Paso that was just as interested in investing in the lives of the teens there as they were about playing music for the evening sessions. 

We got to get away from our normal hectic schedules and spend time with fellow Christ followers, up on a mountain, away from distractions.  Although it was a scorching hot week, we were able to enjoy God’s creation together in a few different ways as well.  One of those was spending time at Sitting Bull Falls, hiking and swimming one afternoon (the temperature gauge in the van I drove read 108 degrees when we parked at the falls).  On Friday morning, we went on the annual hike to the ridge that has quickly become one of my favorite places that I have seen in person on this earth. 

As tired as I have been since returning, the physical exhaustion has been well worth it.  I came back mentally, emotionally, and spiritually refreshed.  That’s something that I’ve needed for a long time.  I got to spend time with other ministers, discussing our churches and what things we need prayer and support in.  Just bouncing ideas off of others is so beneficial.  I got to have some good laughs with the other adults there as well.

One thing happened on two separate nights, however, that may top any camp experience I have ever had.  Well, not really because I received my call into ministry at a week of camp, but this was awesome anyway…just not on the exact same level.  On Thursday night, we were having a camp fire/smores night, and a couple of the band members were there playing acoustic guitars.  The night was coming to an end, and I jokingly asked the lead band member if he knew “Jesus Freak” and explained my website.  They didn’t know the song by memory, but looked up the chords and started playing.  That is when a bunch of the other adults and I started singing our lungs out to an impromptu jam session of “Jesus Freak”.  It was incredible.

Then, the next night at worship was supposed to be more of a concert style worship with the band.  Wally told me early that night that he was going to call me from the sound booth to come up to the stage to help him with something, but that it was for the kids.  I asked what, but he wouldn’t tell me.  When he finally called me up, he handed me a mic and said they were going to play “Jesus Freak”.  I got the other guy at camp with a Jesus Freak tattoo to join me on stage, handed him the mic, because I don’t sing into mics, and we got to sing on stage to a live version of “Jesus Freak”.  As you could imagine, this Crosseyed Jesus Freak was flying high after that.

It just reminds me of where our focus should be though.  Where does your passion lay?  This world tries to distract us, but if I’m going to claim to be a Crosseyed Jesus Freak, I need to be focused on Jesus 100% of the time…or at least as much of that time as I can be.  We have to be strong in our faith.  That’s why this event that I want to tell you about is so important. Guadalupe Christian Camp is getting ready to host its First Annual “Defending the Faith Conference” at the end of July.  Check back here tomorrow for an article about that, but if you are in southeast New Mexico or west Texas, consider joining us for this conference.

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Graduation or Golf?

Erin Hills 1
Erin Hills Golf Course

As you know if you read my articles regularly, I often find stories about sports or athletes that relate to elements of our Christian walk.  I’m a huge sports fan, so these stories just seem to stick out to me. 

Erin HillsThis week, the U.S. Open golf tournament is set to be played at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, WI.  Actually as I type these words, the tournament is already under way.  The U.S. Open, for those of you not familiar with golf, is one of the four annual tournaments that are classified as “Majors”.  These are the toughest tournaments of the year, with usually the toughest golf course set ups that truly test the skills of professional golfers that are good enough to earn their way in to them.

Majors have the most prize money and the most prestige for those that are fortunate enough to win them.  To win a major tournament is to set yourself apart from the rest of the golfing world.  That’s why the story that broke officially this morning is so special.  Phil Mickelson, otherwise known as “Lefty” because he plays left-handed, has won multiple majors over his 25-year professional career.  He’s won three of the four majors at least once.  But he’s never won the U.S. Open.  He’s come close, earning second place six times, but he’s never been able to win it.

He’s been playing professional golf for 25 years, which means that he is getting close to the end of his competitive prime, and will not necessarily have too many more chances to win this elusive tournament.  Yet, Phil officially withdrew from the tournament this morning before play started.  Why?  It wasn’t an injury.  It was so that he could attend his daughter’s high school graduation in San Diego, CA.  He waited until the last minute to withdraw, because there was a chance he could make it to his tee time if there was a weather delay, but once it was clear that there would be no delay, he withdrew.

Phil chose family over the chance to finally win the U.S. Open, not knowing how many more chances he will have at this tournament going forward.  And I applaud him for that!  I think it is incredible that he would make this choice.  He had been talking about this for a couple of months, so it’s not necessarily a huge surprise.  But then again, in the culture that we live in today, it’s refreshing to see someone choose his family over potential prestige and money.

Our society glamorizes work and “providing” for our family so much that it tells us that we should do anything and everything to get further ahead, for our family, even if that means taking valuable time away from our family.  Or, society tells us that we need to take care of ourselves and then our family comes second, only after we have done what we need to do to get to the top.

We even find this in those in ministry sometimes.  There is so much pressure to make sure you are taking care of the people of your church, visiting hospitals, showing up at every event, being on call 24/7 because you are doing what you have been called to do, that often the family suffers.  I get it.  We all should strive to make God first in our lives above anything else.  Doing ministry is often equated to putting God first.  But doing ministry as our job is not the same thing as keeping God first in our lives.  Whether we are in vocational ministry or not, as Christ followers there needs to be a certain order of priorities in our lives.  Something like this; God first, family second, career third.

That is what is so refreshing about Phil this week.  Sure, most people that have commented on the story as it broke officially this morning are commending him for it.  But honestly, there were some that were saying he made the wrong decision.  I don’t know if Phil is a Christ follower.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him discuss his faith.  So, I don’t know if he puts God first in his life.  But he at least gets the family and career stuff in the right order.

We can learn a lot from Phil this week.  Keep God first, absolutely.  But after that, your family should come way before striving to grow in your career.  Priorities matter.  He will probably get another chance at the U.S. Open.  He wouldn’t have gotten another chance to see and celebrate his daughter’s graduation.  Props Phil!  Well done.

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Betrayal

I was texting with a friend of mine back east this week.  I hadn’t had a chance to check in with her in a few weeks, and I could just sense something was wrong through some things on social media.  So I checked in on her.  I asked if everything was ok.  She had recently started dating someone, and I just had the sense that something bad had happened to that relationship.  And unfortunately I was correct.  He had ended the relationship with my friend, and she felt betrayed.  Her heart was broken, and she was still processing what was going on. 

We didn’t have a lot of time to chat at the time, but the whole situation got me thinking about betrayal.  I don’t know what it is, but there is just something in human nature that seems to make us betray one another.  If you have never faced the betrayal of another human being, I would count you very fortunate.  Even Jesus Himself was betrayed.  And that betrayal came from one of His twelve closest companions over the last three years of His life. 

My heart hurts for my friend.  She deserves so much better than what happened.  But the fact remains that we all face betrayals from time to time.  That doesn’t make it any easier to process them when they happen though.  Whether it’s a significant other turning their back on you, a friend spreading a rumor about something that you told them in confidence, a co-worker stabbing you in the back to get ahead, or whatever other betrayals you could imagine, being betrayed hurts.

Betraying others hurts as well.  And whether we want to admit it or not, as much as we have faced betrayals from others, we have probably betrayed someone ourselves at some point. Whether we wanted to or not.  That doesn’t make it right, but that is the reality of sin.  It makes this world that we live in broken.  And broken people treat each other horribly at times.  That’s where God’s grace comes in.  Through a relationship with Him, through the blood of Jesus, we can set aside that human nature, and strive to treat each other with love and respect. 

God will never leave us or abandon us.

That doesn’t mean that we will never sin or mess up again.  Of course we will, because we live in a broken world.  But that is no longer our default setting if we have truly given our lives to Jesus in being a Christ follower.  People are going to betray each other, and that hurts.  Pretty much everyone of us knows that firsthand.  But here is the best news of all.  God will never leave us or abandon us.  He will never betray us.  The author of Hebrews puts it this way in Hebrews 13:5; “Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.”  He is quoting a passage from Deuteronomy 31, where God promised that He would never abandon His people.

Put your trust in God.  Give your life to Him.  Life will always be tough.  We will mess up, and we will hurt one another.  But we have a promise from God that He will never betray us!

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Pray for Me (That God will Shine Through)

Steal My Show

I normally don’t do this, but I’m asking publicly for prayer this morning.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for prayer on my behalf anytime, but I just don’t ask for it (maybe I should do that more anyway).  But today is a little different.  Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the day my dad died.  I was fifteen at the time, so that means I’ve spent over half of my life without him now.

It’s always a hard day.  This year, however, is a little different only because this is the first year that I will actually be preaching on this anniversary.  I love preaching, and I know that my dad would be proud of me being in ministry.  My mom told me after I had accepted the call into ministry that my dad always said he thought I would be a minister (I had no idea he thought that).

Preaching is one of those things, though, that I need to be as clear headed as I can be.  Not because my sermon depends on me.  But I need to be able to step out of the way and allow God’s message to be what is heard. 

I’m sitting here in my office as I do my final prep time.  There is a little less than two hours from the start of our worship service, which means I have a little over two hours before I will be preaching.  The closer I get to that time, it seems the more I think about my dad.  So, I am asking you to join with me in prayer that I will be able to focus this morning, step out of the way, and let God’s message shine through.

As I type this, TobyMac’s song, “Steal My Show” come to mind.  That’s what I want to happen every time I preach or teach.  It’s not about me.  It’s about letting God shine through what He allows me to do.  If you aren’t familiar with the song, the chorus is as follows:

If You wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch You go

If You got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away

Need You to steal my show, can’t wait to watch You go

So take it away

Thank you for your prayers, and let’s all ask God to steal our show!

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Let Me Be Honest

I’m usually a pretty easy going person.  At least I try to be.  And I try to have a positive outlook on things as much as possible.  Although, like I wrote here, I can get caught up in negative attitudes from time to time if I don’t watch myself.  So, I try to look for things to be thankful for.  I have so much.  A loving wife, good friends, family, a church family, and most importantly, a loving God full of grace. 

There are a few things in this world, however, that can instantly cause me to react negatively when I see them happen; children being abused, senseless acts of terrorism, people being taken advantage of, human trafficking; the list could go on.  But something that may seem small caught me off guard this week.  It made me realize that I cannot stand being lied to, or seeing a lie be told about something that I am a part of.

Actually, someone lying to me about something isn’t as big of a deal as someone lying about something that I am a part of and am passionate about.  I found out this week that someone blatantly lied about some circumstances that I was involved in within the past couple of years.  I know the truth about what happened, and have some suspicions about some of the other details.  But what I found out this week was no where near the truth.

I will not go into detail about what happened.  That’s not important.  Plus, I haven’t talked to the person involved, so it would not be right to put the detail out here.  But what I want to write about is integrity.  We have to have integrity, especially if we are going to claim to be Christ followers.  Speaking in truth is a big part of honesty.  Whether the truth is harsh or not, lying is worse in the long run.  And in the case that prompted this, the truth would not have been that bad.  Like I said, I pretty much knew what really happened when the situation originally took place.

Jesus spoke to the issue of telling the truth.  In fact, it is included in what He calls the two most important commandments.  Matthew 22:37-40 read;

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I know the words “tell the truth”, or “don’t lie” are not included here, but the idea is there none the less.  These two commands that Jesus tells us are the two most important commands basically sum up the Ten Commandments.  Love God and love others is what the Ten Commandments are really made up of.  And one of the Ten Commandments is basically about lying.  Exodus 20:16 reads;

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

So, it’s right there in the Ten Commandments.  But Jesus speaks on this issue more than just here.  He speaks even more directly to this issue in what we call the “Sermon on the Mount”.  In Matthew 5:33-37, he speaks on the issue of using oaths to make an agreement with someone.  Basically, He makes the argument that you should not need to use an oath, because your yes should be yes, and your no, no.  This means that it should be expected that what you say about something is the truth.  And the only way that happens is if you are honest as possible about situations.  If you are caught in a lie, then it is going to be hard for that person to trust your word in the future.  The passage reads;

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

I write this more as a healing process for me.  I needed to get my thoughts out.  I needed to deal with some anger about finding a lie.  I have prayed for forgiveness of my anger, and I have forgiven the lie that I found out about.  But I also wanted to caution all of us.  As Christ followers, our honesty and integrity are paramount.  We are going to mess up and sin.  That’s unfortunate, but it’s also part of our human nature.  As much as we want to get rid of all the sin in our lives, it’s going to catch us from time to time.  But lying is something that we should be able to control, and again, without integrity and honesty, our witness to others is going to be damaged.  Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.

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Keep Your Focus

CleVs.Bos

Last Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals over the Boston Celtics with an embarrassing 40+ point win.  Boston couldn’t do anything, and it looked as if they had just completely given up.  I, along with just about anyone that I heard say anything about the series assumed it was over.  Cleveland, who had won both of the first two games in Boston, was coming home and was going to easily win the next two games to sweep the series and go to the NBA Finals.  There was little doubt, especially since Boston’s star player had been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs due to an injury in the first half of game two.

The problem is that Cleveland seemed to take this for granted as well.  They seemed to just assume they had the series won, and it was going to easily fall to them.  And during the first half of game three on Sunday, that is exactly what seemed to be happening.  The Cavaliers took a commanding 21-pt lead at one point, entering halftime with a 16-point lead.  I actually stopped watching the game at that point, helping out with something else around the house.  I thought the game was over.

That is, until the fourth quarter started and I happened to glance at the game again.  That huge halftime lead had been cut to single digits.  So, I started watching the game again, hoping that the Cavs would hold on and start playing with some purpose again.  But that didn’t happen.  Boston, who looked completely out of the series and ready for the off-season fought back and hit a game-winning three-point shot with .01 seconds left.  LeBron James, who played the entire fourth quarter, went scoreless in it.  If you follow basketball at all, you know that is something that rarely happens. 

So what happened?  How did a team that was dominating the entire playoffs, and especially this series, give up a 21-point lead to allow Boston to steal a game in Cleveland?  It’s a pretty simple explanation, and it is definitely something that we, as Christ followers, can learn a lot from as well.  Continue reading “Keep Your Focus”