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Monthly Archives: August 2012

HYDRATE –Winning from the inside 28 (Matthew 6:16-18) Motives

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)

Motives are a tough thing to judge. Motives originate inside the heart and mind and tend to become evident through actions. I think it is easy to get caught up in being quick to judge people’s motives. We all can have moments of confidence where we think we know why a person is wearing a certain outfit, or why a person is hanging out with that other person, or why they drive that kind of car. The reality is, that confidence that makes us think we know why somebody is doing a certain thing, is actually judging. This whole subject gets complicated in the sheer fact that Judging is preceded by motive. You cannot judge someone without first having a motive. Everything that you and I do is founded on motives. Some examples? A friend recently told me a story about a lady on an airline flight that he was also on. My friend, who is a great and dramatic story teller told the story like this. “The plane was about to pull back from the gate, when it was announced that there was a last minute passenger who needed to board the plane, and that there would be a few more minutes of delay. The passengers already on the plane, almost as if on cue, all moaned in unison. About 5 minutes later the late passenger boarded the plane.” My friend, telling the story, described the scene. “The lady came blasting down the isle, and her size made it difficult for her to fit down the isle, so as she passed by, everybody had to make a little extra room for her to get down the isle and to her seat. When she sat down she demanded rather loudly to the already seated flight attendants to get a seatbelt expander. It was obvious that she had been running, she was very sweaty and her hair was disheveled and it was clear that she was frustrated. When she finally sat down and the plane was able to taxi and take off, it only took about 2 minutes before this lady began to push her flight attendant button and ask for some water. The flight attendant got up from her seat and walked back to determine how she might be of assistance. When the lady requested some water, she was told no by the flight attendant because beverage service wouldn’t begin for another 20 minutes for all the passengers who would like to have a refreshment. The lady, who made the whole flight wait, got very upset and began to raise her voice about how she had to run to catch the plane and that if she didn’t get some water now, she might faint. The flight attendant turned around and walked to the back and with a voice that carried far enough for the back half of the plane to hear, said, ‘that overweight, demanding lady who made our whole flight take off late, just for her, is now demanding that she get something to drink before everybody else on the plane.’ The other flight attendant snickered, just loud enough, and said, some people have such nerve. The lady who requested the water heard the remarks and began to cry out loud. The flight attendant approached the lady with a glass of water and said, I hope you are satisfied. Maybe now we can take care of the others on the plane and not just serve your desires, I’m not sure what your problem is, but I think you are very demanding and rude. Why are you being so dramatic and selfish? The lady, who the whole plane was delayed for, replied I’m really sorry for my poor behavior, I just found out that my mother was in a very bad car accident and is in critical condition at the ICU and that I needed to hurry if I wanted to see her, because she might not make it through the day. I am so afraid I will not see her before she passes away.”

Motives Matter. I think this teaching of Jesus about fasting, is not so much about fasting as it is about motives.

If you reread Jesus teaching above, you will notice that He doesn’t say, ‘if you fast.” He says, “when you fast.” Jesus doesn’t really teach about fasting, how to fast, or what to fast from. He simply teaches about motives for fasting. As Jesus didn’t take the time in this passage to teach about fasting, I won’t either. I will simply say that fasting is sacrificially denying yourself anything for the purpose of showing God that whatever you are fasting from is not more important than He is. Fasting is also a way of showing the Lord how serious you are about whatever it is you are praying and fasting about.

It seems to me that Jesus is teaching about why we fast. He is teaching about fasting with false motives. He says in this passage that if we do anything on earth with the motive of seeking an earthly reward, that it would be the only reward we get. He doesn’t say that we will not be rewarded. I think He is saying that if we seek an earthly reward it will be a good one, but at the cost of a greater reward.

My motive determines my reward.

If I live for this world, then I will receive earthly rewards. This is a good thing.
If I live in this world, with motives that seek an eternal reward at the cost of an earthly reward, then I held out for the greater reward.

Which reward do you desire more.
If you want your reward RIGHT NOW…then you can get it.
If you want your reward to come from God and be eternally focused…you can get that too.

I think that those who are only living for this world…well…this world is as close as close to Heaven as they will get.

I think that those who are bringing the elements of Heaven to earth, and living with Heaven in mind…this world is as close to hell as they will ever get.

Is it just me, or is Jesus saying that if we do anything on earth with a motive of getting the reward now, then that is the only reward we will get pertaining to that action? I think so. Again…this is not a bad thing. Its a good thing at the cost of a greater thing.

Delayed gratification is a hard thing. It takes patience and endurance. Jesus says in other teachings of His that we should store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. What does that mean? It seems to mean that there is a reward system in eternity. How we live now determines what kind of rewards we get in Heaven. Heaven’s focus is the only time where we actually hear Jesus say to store up for yourself.

Why you live, why you work, and why you play, matters. Test your motives. It has eternal ramifications.

Why do you wear what your wearing right now?
Why did you get that body augmentation?
Why did you sign up to serve as a volunteer?
Why did you give money to that homeless person?
Why did you purchase the specific vehicle you drive?
Why do own the home you have and decorate it the way you do?
Why do you do what you do spiritually?
Are you doing any action today that if you tested your motives you would have to admit that you are doing it to get attention?

Its not wrong to do things for attention(earthly reward), it will just be done at the cost of receiving an eternal, God given reward for it.

I want to challenge you to do good in a stealth way! Do your acts of kindness secretly. When you do this…you will find great joy and you will receive rewards from the Lord!

I want to challenge you to take Jesus up on his teaching. When you fast, don’t let anybody know. Then your reward will be all the greater.

There is no greater reward than being blessed by the Creator of the sun, moon and stars! His rewards are eternal. His rewards are things that can never be taken away.

Motives matter.
What’s your motive?


Church Planting Sequel

Do you remember the old Whitesnake song “Here I Go Again”? It was a #1 hit song. Originally released on their 1982 album, Saints & Sinners, the song was re-recorded for their 1987 album Whitesnake. In 2006, the 1987 version was named the 17th Greatest Song of the 1980s by VH1.

The Lyrics resonate with me as I venture into what will be my 2nd Church plant. Some of the Lyrics go like this…my comments are in parenthesis.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been. (Steve Jobs said, we cannot connect the dots looking forward, only looking back.)
Hanging on the promises in the songs of yesterday (Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Amazing Grace, How great thou art, The Old Rugged Cross.)
And I’ve made up my mind (I’m planting a church again. The first one was amazing, I have no idea how this 2nd one will turn out.)
I ain’t wasting no more time (I’ve been side-lined for more than a year now. Its time to do what God has created me to do, plant a Church)
Here I go again, here I go again (Yep…but the “I” should be a “we.” I can’t do this on my own. Its not mine, its the Lord’s. I want to include people from all around the world who will invest their time, talent and treasure in this church plant. What do you have that you would like to invest in this specific work of the Lord’s?)

There are so many unknowns in the future. I know this Church plant will come with some criticism, but we must move forward. There are thousands…no… millions of people who are far from God that if any Christ centered church out there doesn’t reach them, they will spend eternity is the most formidable and tormenting place ever in existence, Hell. The Church shouldn’t criticize each other. We shouldn’t compete against each other, we should celebrate our differences and march together as the body of Christ. We should complete each other.

So many people think the church is the most segregated organism on the planet. Some would “prove” this by saying that whites go to one church, blacks to another, hispanics go one way, Asians another and right on down the skin color chart….and then they’ll prove their segregation comments further by saying, the youth go to one place, the children to another, men this way, women that way, divorcees here, young couples there, senior somewhere else. This “glass half-empty” mentality says that these facts show that the current church is all a great tragedy.

I’m a “glass half full” mentality kind of guy. I agree with the description above, but I do not see it as segregation. I see it as the body of Christ and just as a heart goes one place, the lungs go to another, the toes, the head, the fingers, the kidneys, the eyeballs, the elbows, the knees….

I think the church is the most strategically located entity in the world. It has diversity that reaches to the ends of the earth. IT TAKES ALL KINDS TO REACH ALL KINDS! “Birds of a feather, flock together! Every color, race, tribe and misfit has a place in the body of Christ. A.K.A…THE CHURCH! If it is an organism that believes that Jesus Christ is THE way, THE truth, THE life…then it is a unified, universal, un-defeatable body that is a giant, beautiful, imperfect, spectacular….CHURCH! It isn’t tragic that we are spread out all over the world in like groups…its miraculous and beautiful.

I love the Church…even when her dirty laundry is hanging out for all the world to see. I love the Church. Even in it’s worst form…its beautiful!

That’s why I’m starting a brand new one in Orlando Florida…in a suburb called Oviedo.
I don’t know how it will turn out, but I give this one promise…
I’m going to love joining with a group of people who want to make a dent in this crazy world…where we team together complimenting each other with our different strengths, talents, and spiritual gifts. My greatest passion in life is helping you be successful by leading you to understand your purpose by helping you understand your giftedness that the Lord has blessed you with and then challenging you to storm the gates of Hell at all costs! I’ll storm them with you!

Its going to be an unforgettable, eternal journey.

To God Be The Glory…Great Things He Hath Done…

Here we are Lord…Use us!
TR


Trajectory – Shift Happens

One decision, one person, one integrity problem, one accident, one encounter…and your entire life trajectory can be altered for eternity. We are all just one decision from having our entire life trajectory being altered for eternity. I have never in my life imagined living in Orlando Florida. I planted a church in Phoenix Arizona and dreamed to be the Lead Pastor of that Church for 40 years and then retire and pass the baton to one of my sons and ask to have the Church broom so I could be the Church Janitor and best cheerleader the new pastor could dream of. To be perfectly honest I hate the phrase, ‘If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans.” I hate it, but I get it.

I am completely dumbfounded, flabbergasted, blown away, that I now live in Orlando Florida. My family’s trajectory change has moments of thrill and moments of chill…yah…the bad kind of chill. One decision… has me living 2,180 miles from anything I have ever known and facing giants and obstacles that make my skin crawl, my heart ache, my blood pressure to rise, and my heart to beat faster for the thrill of the challenge. One decision led to this. One decision that I know I was supposed to make. How do I know that I was supposed to make it? Because God told me to. It was so clear that, if I had to make the decision again, knowing what I know now, I would have to make the same decision because God was that clear. Steve Jobs said that we can never connect the dots looking forward, only looking back. Others say we all have 20/20 hindsight.

So the average comfy Christian would reply to my paragraph above, “Its okay, Trent…God must have wanted you to live in Orlando Florida and have you doing what you are doing now…or… what happened wouldn’t have happened, its all God’s plan…so let go and let God.” Isn’t that convenient. I’m not a Calvanist and I think that answer is a copout. Its wrong to place all the blame or responsibility on God. Its easy to blame God for the disasters/trajectory changes going on in your life. When you blame God nobody else has to accept responsibility. The phrase, “God’s Got This” is true but that is different than saying God caused this. Want an example?

Adam and Eve. Did God plan and intend for them to break His rules of not eating of the specific trees in the Garden of Eden? Did God tell Himself before He created Adam and Eve….”Hey I’m going to create this thing called people and I am going to love them because I made them in my image to be like me…but in my plan I’ve got this little fun twist I want to play around with…I’m going to cause them to screw it all up. I am going to watch them become ashamed of each other and then I plan on watching them kill each other and then I’m going to kill my own Son to pay the price for their screw ups and how fun it will be…because I”m gonna blow them all away by raising my son from the dead after I kill Him! God leans to His right and asks His Son…”Sound Cool, Jesus?” “You up for this great plan, Son?” Jesus says, “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, Dad.” God replies, “Oh, Jesus…don’t be a bad sport. You can do it! Think of the adventure!” So God proceeds with his “will” and for thousands of years orchestrates rapes, gangster murder, divorce and hate, suicide bombers, as He leans back into His memory foam love-sac and from His game room in His gated community called Heaven, xbox 360 controller in hand, intensely playing through His favorite game called Life. Press X for Jump, Y to knife, UP arrow to receive prayer, DOWN arrow for eternal punishment…

Too cynical for you? Yah…me too…I’m in a sassy mood. Its been a rough week. It all makes we want to scream from my roof top that Life was never intended to be this way. If you can read through my cynicism there’s actually a good lesson here.

Trajectory Shift. Your’s might shift tomorrow. Everything you’ve been doing for the past 13/20/60 years could be completely annihilated before your very eyes…tomorrow. If it happens you’ll be put in a trajectory change that will make you question everything you thought you knew about life, the people around you and leave you screaming, Why?!” Ask yourself… Do you trust that person you are about to make the deal with? Do you trust your spouse? Do you trust your dad? Do you trust that taxi driver as you jump in the back seat. Do you trust the engineer who just built the bridge. Do you trust the man who put the bolt in the truss hanging over your head in that giant football stadium? Do you trust the driver on the other side of the dotted yellow line? Do you trust the councelor who is meeting behind closed doors with your child? Do you trust the guy working under you as he sees the rungs of the ladder above you? Do you trust the spiritual mentor you’ve had in your life for the past 20 plus years? Do you trust your preacher and how he handles the church finances? Do you trust the man dressed up in a SWAT uniform carrying a gun across the parking lot of the movie theater? Trust and Trajectory shifts…they go hand in hand.

Its tough to walk the fine line of trusting someone, something, and at the same time making sure everybody signs the dotted line of security.

In God We Trust…everybody else pays cash and signs the agreement.
I’ve learned in the past year about trust and security and trajectory shift. God is the only one we can fully trust without thinking much about it, without worry, without stress. He always has our best interest in mind, even if it doesn’t feel good. Everybody else…you will have to choose to trust, it will require some security backup like contracts and waivers. Even then its a finicky trust. Its a trust that if all parties aren’t seeking the best interest of each other it will end up in a trajectory shift in your life that will take your breath away and you will be bothered by it the rest of your life. Shift Happens!

I chose to trust. 20/20 hindsight proves that it was a blind and naive trust. I didn’t have anybody sign the agreement that I wrote up. I didn’t get perfect clarity before I committed. I feel like a dummy. I trusted. I quietly pulled back the paperwork, folded it in half and slid it in my back pocket. Oh…I’d like that 20 seconds of time back. I believed in the idealistic dream that everybody has everybody else’s benefit in mind. You see…it takes two to make a plan work right. It takes all parties listening to God and behaving like God to make God’s plan work. Even one entity thinking only for themselves and the deal is bust. Trajectory Shift starting in 10…9…8…

I do not blame anyone, but myself. I don’t blame the other party. I most definitely do not blame God. I’m just heart broken over all the shift! Its a load of shift. I’m sick to my stomach…frequently…about it all. What does a man do now? I know the answer to that question!

You get up, shake the dust off your clothes and put your feet on the ground and start over. What else can you do? It doesn’t work to keep laying in the dirt bloodied and pathetic. It doesn’t work to listen to the voice of the critic. It doesn’t work to listen to the voice of one who is celebrating as you suffer the shift. You get up! Tomorrow arrives consistently everyday. Time keeps ticking whether I want it to stop or not. I must choose to fully grasp the shift and make the most of it. Shifts make for new beginnings, new places, new plans. Pain and trajectory shifts are twins. Pain doesn’t mean its bad, its just reality. Trajectory shifts means somebody didn’t get what they hoped for. That causes agony, but new beginnings too. My trajectory shift has landed me in another part of the country and feels like another part of the world. My trajectory shift has me realizing that everybody is the same whether you live in Arizona or in Florida…Uganda or Peru…Jerusalem or Paris.

I am truly understanding for the first time in my life what the Bible means by all Creation groans for the return of the King, Jesus Christ. I used to think only weak people groaned for the return of Jesus. I’ve realized its just the opposite. People who really haven’t faced a crushing trajectory shift in their life, who sit under the umbrella of false security and false contentment are the soft ones who don’t understand why people groan for the return of Jesus. If you aren’t groaning for the return of Jesus you have the “blessed” position of comfort and a life truly unaltered. You’ve gotten your way for too long. To this type of person, it is alarming to think of Jesus returning, for life is too good to have it all end now. Death terrifies this type of person because life is too good. What a crazy, wild, out of control world we live in…its quite thrilling if you think about it. I guess its all how you view life.

I am astonished at the patience and love that Jesus carried with Him every minute of the short time He lived here as one of us. He encountered such selfish people. On rare occasions we can see when He encountered a person that “inspired” Him. It was usually a person who had faced incredible hardship and trajectory shifts in their life. It takes my breath away when I think about how much restraint, that God the Father must have, to NOT send His Son back down here to settle the score once and for all and end the nonsense, the selfishness, the clamoring for power and privilege and position. Fighting for who answers to who. Scheming to get what they want when they want it. I want to scream…Jesus…please stop the madness! God’s patience is maddening to me and at the same time a beautiful gift to me. And you!

Its enough to make a pastor throw in the towel of ministry to go work at Home Depot. But…

No chance.
I’ll never quit.
Yes…I said it…Never.

I have been crushed. The crushing has made me smarter, harder, more aware. I’m not sure if all of those things are good or not? I assume it depends on how I use those knew weapons from this day forward.

Time tells all things. Trajectory shift changes all things.
For now…the trajectory has shifted. Shift happens. I can handle it. It just makes me weary. I must rest…for tomorrow is guaranteed to begin. The sun will rise. The Son will return. In the mean time….
I’ll try not to screw it up. If I do…that’ll change the trajectory again. Trajectory change wouldn’t be so bad if it was just me that it affected. The trajectory shift I experienced a year ago…because of one decision,…affected more than 20,000 people. Their trajectory was altered, even though multitudes of them will never know. I wish it would have just affected me. I faced an incredibly scary decision just a few nights ago that I had to make. I made it and my trajectory has shifted again. This trajectory shift has affected nearly 1000 people. In the next few days and weeks all involved with experience more trajectory shift because of the choices of a few.

I wonder if there is a viewing room in Heaven where we can someday go to see what should have been or what could have been if all parties would have just acted like Jesus. I don’t think an actual room exists, though, because the Bible says there will be no tears. Sitting in the viewing room of what should have been, would make any viewer watching their “should have been life” flash before their eyes, cry. If there was such a room, it would have a no vacancy sign on because it would be full of those who insisted that their life stay the same. It will be full of people who clawed and fought for only what they want. The video playing in that room will terrify those who refused to change, stretch, grow, give and risk. If you haven’t faced tremendous trajectory shift in your life, it will only be a matter of time. I think there are two kinds of people in the world. Those coming out of a crushing trajectory shift and those who are getting ready to enter a crushing trajectory shift.

As hard as the trajectory shift is…the shift is actually a gift from God. This wasn’t all in God’s plan. I will never know what God had planned in the plan before this trajectory shift. I will be thought provoked for the rest of my life wondering what could have been if everybody would have stayed in God’s will.
The things that happened has caused God to have to change His plan. It has caused God to pick up the ashes
What does a man do in this situation?

It makes him simply say…What now Lord? Here I am use me.

Trust God that He didn’t cause this trajectory change. Man did.
Trust God at His word that He’ll make beauty from ashes. He will.

The Shift is a Gift!

May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.
Carry on.

Trent