How To Build An Unbeatable Team

It’s that time of the year.  Fantasy football drafts are happening everyday!  For those of you who are into fantasy football, the anticipation of the fantasy draft is a lot of fun.  How it works is that you draft players who play for your team on game day and earn points for your team based on how they actually perform on the field.  When they succeed, YOU SUCCEED.  It is good fun but let me ask you a serious question?  If you were to draft a team to help you accomplish your dream for your life and your organization, who would you draft?  I want guys blocking for me that look like this guy…

football dude 8-19

 

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed…”  Proverbs 15:22

Who do you need on your team in order for your dream to happen?  YOU NEED PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU!  You need a diverse team full of people with varying skills and experiences, different ages and personalities, but regardless, you need the best!  In many ways these people will help protect you from yourself.

How To Draft an Elite Fantasy Team

#1 Know Exactly What You Need –  Part of the challenge in getting to where you want to go is knowing how to identify the needs.  You will need to shore up different weaknesses.  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish dictates the WHO!  Too many self reliant, prideful people try to accomplish a big vision on their own.  If you want to accomplish a BIG DOG dream you better have BIG DOGS on your team. I want the BEST team possible!  Who is on my team?  Below you will see 4 different goals I have and then WHO is on my fantasy team.  You will quickly see, the WHO IS CRITICAL.

  • Build a Family Together / Summer – Listen, I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to do life alone.  So I found someone to love and take with me together on this ride.  She is my 1st round draft pick EVERYTIME.  I will always choose Summer and my kids over every other goal, dream and possibility.  The church can get another pastor, but I am the only one who can fulfill the role of Dad to my children.  Most important draft pick…spouse.
  • Family Health / Adoption / Bethany Christian Services – We drafted them six years ago to help us fulfill the dream of opening our home to children who need love, health and education.  They are an incredible christian organization focused on putting a dent in fatherlessness, abuse, and the underserved children in the world.  I want their whole team on my team! Sometimes it is a person you need, other times it’s a whole organization.  Now that we have three little boys from Uganda as our sons, we need counselors, teachers and doctors to help us with the unique challenges of adoption.  All are on my dream team!
  • Successfully Grow 217church to HealthDoug & The Dream Team.  Doug is the Director of Ministry of 217church.  Have a question? A problem?  He will help you through it.  I drafted him 7 years ago when we planted the church, and eventually through humility and service, he joined our dream team!  Then there are the other members of our INCREDIBLE dream team.  Jocelyn, Josh & Amanda, Roberto, Tim, Noriel, Rich, Ivannia, Steve & Debbie, our Governing board, our elders, and our small group leaders!  I love you guys. You make it happen. You need people who are running in the same direction passionate about the vision together!
  • Advise Financially and Pay Taxes / Donna – She is the best accountant/ tax professional I know.  She is honest, clear, focused, no nonsense, gold!  Paying your taxes and financial integrity are HUGE issues and you will need help to navigate this.

#2 Stop Making Excuses:   Maybe you feel like, “all the good players are gone.”  This is simply not true. One thing I like to do as a fantasy football player is to find the “diamond in the rough.”  This means finding someone no one else thought had much value and picking them in the later rounds.  Sometimes you choose someone no one else thought had value.  This will take an incredible investment of time and energy, but is worth it.  Sounds like what Jesus did for us!

#3 Cast a Compelling Vision:  If someone were to sign up to be on your team, would they be motivated by the big target on the wall?  Or would your vision be lackluster?  You know you have a God-given vision when God has to show up in order for it to happen!  If you can do it without God and faith, your vision probably won’t be compelling and people will not be inspired.

#4 Get Courage To Ask:  This is where risk comes in.  At some time I had to ask all the people above to be on my team.  For some of them it took longer than others.  Make no mistake about it, when someone comes on your team, you must be committed to serving them.  It’s not about you but the vision.  People want to be a part of something world changing and your job is to give them that opportunity.  Sure you might get rejected, but keep in mind, you don’t want people on your team that won’t be 100% committed to the vision, so let them go.

Building a team is fun, rewarding, but takes a lot of work.  Take time right now and determine what are your biggest needs.  Here are some more ideas for building a fantasy team that will serve you well:

  • Spiritual advisors
  • Confidential friends
  • Legal advisors
  • Physical trainer
  • Nutritionist
  • Health Doctor
  • Contemporaries
  • Tax professionals

 

This Sunday I would love for you to join the 217church team!   We are having a ministry fair and an excellent opportunity for you to connect to God’s dream for your life and our community.

Josh

 

This Sunday September 17 – “His Story” Series Week #1 through the Gospels (Small Groups Launch & Ministry Fair)

October 8  New Service times  -9:30am & 11:00am

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday September 17th 2017 we will have our Fall Launch celebration service.

 

Expectation – You Need Some

10 Things that Accelerate Vision:  Principle #2 – Expectation

I love the moment right before take off – It’s a total rush!  Over the next 10 weeks I will be sharing one attribute every week that is proven to accelerate vision.  This week is #2 Expectation.  These are essential if we are to take our vision further faster.  These lessons don’t just apply to our church, but to every area of our lives. What will it take to #accelerate the vision of our lives and our church?

Principle #2 We must believe with EXPECTATION

plane

“Without fatih it is impossible to please God.”  Hebrews 11:6

Expectation inspires commitment.  I’ll never forget leaving for Marine Corps boot camp on a plane as an 18 year old boy.  I say boy because boot camp was part of my essential journey of becoming a man.  Everything in me wanted to be a United States Marine.  My father was a Marine and there was something about the experience that for some reason was alluring.  I wanted to serve my country.  I wanted to challenge myself.  Everything from the motto, “The few the proud the Marines,” to the sharpness of the uniform and challenge of serving my country.  I never went in doubting I could be a Marine.  After all my dad did it, My Grandfather did it, My uncles did it.  And I was EXPECTED TO DO IT.  I was committed to the process without wavering and without compromise

Why Expectation is Important

#1 Increasing Faith – No doubt there will be things we are called to do as a church and in our lives that will challenge us.  We can’t do it, but God will do it for us.  Our faith will increase.

#2 Community – The group of people I graduated boot camp with were incredible young men.  We will always have that shared experience.  To this day, whenever I meet a Marine, any Marine, there is a brotherhood that can’t be broken.

#3 Hope –  You need hope.  No matter what you are hoping for:  Paying off your debt, graduating from college or high school, a different place to live, a wife or husband, a son or daughter to forgive you; No matter what it is, you must hold out hope!

Expect it and you will accelerate the vision!

accelerate-web-graphic-2

Join us at 217church and our SERIES #Accelerate – Let’s celebrate what God has done through 217church this Sunday!

 

October 16 – Courageous Sacrifice – Sharon School in Robbinsville 10:30 am Combined service

For more on our NEW SEASON and Why we are moving out of the Theater Click HERE 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Leadership – Day 29 – Relaunch Journal

Leadership – “Don’t tell me what to do, show me how to live.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 3:1-32

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What an incredible testimony to the commitment of the vision.  When Eliashib the High Priest set the example and started building his part of the city, it’s almost like a tidal wave of gifts and effort ensued.  Everyone was busy, and the priests were leading by example.  “Don’t tell me what to do, show me how to live!”  The priests could have easily sat back and let everyone else work while they did the “spiritual work.”  But they didn’t.  Leadership is about putting forth an incredible effort and influencing those around us with all our energy and impact to achieve a common goal.  Lord, may you give our church the great pleasure of accomplishing your vision together.

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch Week 4 of Relaunch:  “Striving  For Unity” Here:

The more you love others, the more you leave your pride.  There is no place for pride when working on a high performance team.  The people are pulling together to rebuild the wall amidst the opposition, and they are learning how to be absolutely unified.  In order to strive for unity we must rely on the power of God, remain alert, and rally to the needs of others.

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of God upon earth.

John Wesley

5 Ways To Become A Person of Action

I have a confession to make.  Yesterday I had an idea to bring my wife flowers.  What a guy! But did I do it?  Brace yourselves, NO.  Therefore, the idea, although a noble one and one that would bring joy to my beautiful bride of almost 18 years, DIDN’T EVEN MATTER.  (As a matter of fact when she reads this, it might work against me). We have all been in situations when we wanted to implement a GREAT, sometimes world changing idea.  But if we don’t do it, the idea is worthless.  Our best intentions without ACTION equal frustration.

How do we become people that ACT and LIVE our best intentions?

Start button

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22

Initiating IS NOT easy.  We have many things to overcome in our lives: Fear, laziness, poor planning and doubt can keep us from starting something.  But we are to be people of ACTION!  If you fail to start, you have already failed.

5 Ways To Become A Person of Action

#1 Believe in Your Idea – Many of us second guess our ideas way too much.  Someone needs to feel and sense the outcome of your initiation.  Many of us have had a GOOD idea for way too long but we don’t believe in the idea because of perfectionism, some a lack of confidence and others just are insecure about what others will think.  NEVER LET FEAR OWN YOUR FUTURE!  I’d rather get it wrong then passively sit on the sidelines.

#2 Plan it Out – The best idea that doesn’t show up in your calendar probably won’t happen.  The reason the flowers didn’t make it to the table yesterday?  I had no plan to get them so it just didn’t happen.  The bigger the idea, the longer you need.  Write it down, plan it out, and stick to your guns/schedule and make it happen.

#3 See The Outcome  This is the fun part.  If your actions are motivated out of love, it will MOTIVATE you to get busy.  When I teach, I often visualize the way someone might feel when hearing the material, this encourages me to act in boldness and say what I need to say.  Imagine how people will feel and the value you will have added once the task is complete.

#4 Share Your Idea – Nothing is quite as powerful as someone encouraging you in your idea.  I spend a lot of time bouncing my ideas off my co-workers family and it actually lets me know if my idea is any good! In addition, they make my ideas better.  Once I tell someone I am going to do something, it helps me initiate.

#5 Get off The Couch – Okay, I know this is obvious, but the only way to do it is to, well, DO IT!  This means you have to do whatever it takes to start!  Eat a big breakfast, run a mile, go to sleep early.  In short, No one can make you do the idea, but you know it needs to happen!

Don’t beat yourself up, we have ALL talked too much about what we were GOING to do. Forgive yourself!

Alright, better get the flowers!  What do you KNOW you need to do?  COMMENT BELOW… I’m interested to know some things that we have all been procrastinating.

 

Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

 

 

 

Who Is On Your Fantasy Team?

It’s that time of the year.  Fantasy football drafts are happening everyday!  For those of you who are into fantasy football, the anticipation of the fantasy draft is a lot of fun.  How it works is that you draft players who play for your team on game day and earn points for your team based on how they actually perform on the field.  When they succeed, YOU SUCCEED.  It is good fun but let me ask you a serious question?  If you were to draft a team to help you accomplish your dream for your life, who would you draft?

football dude 8-19

 

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed…”  Proverbs 15:22

Who do you need on your team in order for your dream to happen?  YOU NEED PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU!  You need a diverse team full of people with varying skills and experiences, different ages and personalities, but regardless, you need the best!  In many ways these people will help protect you from yourself.

How To Draft an Elite Fantasy Team

#1 Know Exactly What You Need-  Part of the challenge in getting to where you want to go is knowing how to identify the needs.  You will need to shore up different weaknesses.  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish dictates the WHO!  Too many self reliant, prideful people try to accomplish a big vision on their own.  If you want to accomplish a BIG DOG dream you better have BIG DOGS on your team. I want the BEST team possible!  Who is on my team?  Below you will see 5 different goals I have and then WHO is on my fantasy team.  You will quickly see, the WHO IS CRITICAL.

  • Build a Family Together / Summer – Listen, I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to do life alone.  So I found someone to love and take with me together on this ride.  She is my 1st round draft pick EVERYTIME.  I will always choose Summer and my kids over every other goal, dream and possibility.  The church can get another pastor, but I am the only one who can fulfill the role of Dad to my children.  Most important draft pick…spouse.
  • Adopt Children / Bethany Christian Services – We drafted them two years ago to help us fulfill the dream of opening our home to orphans who need love, health and education.  They are an incredible christian organization focused on putting a dent in fatherlessness.  I want their whole team on my team! Sometimes it is a person you need, other times it’s a whole organization.
  • Coach me Personally and Professionally / Greg – I knew I needed someone from the outside to help me build a high quality plan for my life personally and professionally.  A trusted advisor who I could ask ANYTHING who would give me honest objective answers.  You don’t see what you don’t see.  Greg helps me see what I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Greg runs a coaching organization and has coached hundreds of pastors to live with conviction and intentionality.
  • Successfully Plant & Grow 217churchDan & Bonnie & Staff.  Dan is the Executive Pastor of 217church and Bonnie, well, she is like a swiss army knife wife to Dan.  Have a question? A problem? She will help you through it.  I drafted them 4 years ago when we planted the church.  Then there is our INCREDIBLE staff team.  Kevin, Justin, Arlynet, Tim, Kelly, Sandy.  I love you guys. You make it happen.  Let me add one more name, Matt.  Matt was there from the conception and now pastors Element church.  You need people who are doing what you are doing to learn from and bounce ideas off of.
  • Advise Financially and Pay Taxes / Donna – She is the best accountant/ tax professional I know.  She is honest, clear, focused, no nonsense, gold!  Paying your taxes and financial integrity are HUGE issues and you will need help to navigate this.

#2 Stop Making Excuses:   Maybe you feel like, “all the good players are gone.”  This is simply not true. One thing I like to do as a fantasy football player is to find the “diamond in the rough.”  This means finding someone no one else thought had much value and picking them in the later rounds.  Sometimes you choose someone no one else thought had value.  This will take an incredible investment of time and energy, but is worth it.  Sounds like what Jesus did for us!

#3 Cast a Compelling Vision:  If someone were to sign up to be on your team, would they be motivated by the big target on the wall?  Or would your vision be lackluster?  You know you have a God-given vision when God has to show up in order for it to happen!  If you can do it without God and faith, your vision probably won’t be compelling and people will not be inspired.

#4 Get Courage To Ask:  This is where risk comes in.  At some time I had to ask all the people above to be on my team.  For some of them it took longer than others.  Make no mistake about it, when someone comes on your team, you must be committed to serving them.  It’s not about you but the vision.  People want to be a part of something world changing and your job is to give them that opportunity.  Sure you might get rejected, but keep in mind, you don’t want people on your team that won’t be 100% committed to the vision, so let them go.

Building a team is fun, rewarding, but takes a lot of work.  Take time right now and determine what are your biggest needs.  Here are some more ideas for building a fantasy team that will serve you well:

  • Spiritual advisors
  • Confidential friends
  • Legal advisors
  • Physical trainer
  • Nutritionist
  • Health Doctor
  • Contemporaries
  • Tax professionals

Josh

Josh is the lead Pastor @217church.  Join us this Sunday at 9:30 or 11 am at the AMC 24 Theater in Hamilton, NJ!  We are a unique contemporary church in Central Jersey dedicated to restoring lives and rebuilding and renewing the community around us.  If you live in the Mercer County, Burlington County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA area, learn more about 217church by clicking HERE

 

Hamilton Township Mayor Sentenced to 38 Months…And How To Avoid ‘Stupid Moments’ As a Leader

Today was a sad day for me.  As a Pastor in the township of Hamilton, NJ I am deeply grieved by what just occurred in the Fisher Federal Courthouse in Trenton.  After the former Mayor John Bencivengo solicited $12,400 in bribes from a school district insurance broker, he was convicted of corruption and was sentenced today to 38 months in a federal prison.  Essentially, the leader of our community threw everything away.  I had the privilege to sit next to the former Mayor at several Hamilton Township events and I remember meeting him when we started 217church in 2010.  Mr. Bencivengo was cordial and I gave him the respect his office deserved. I don’t know Mr. Bencivengo personally and I’m not sure what went wrong, or when exactly he made a decision to steal money, but I do know this: Today was probably one of the saddest days of his 90 year old mother’s life, Rose Mary Bencivengo.

Former Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

 Let’s all be honest, we have all made mistakes, maybe we haven’t extorted $12,400, but we all have all done things we are not proud of.  These choices have consequences and everyone has been tempted to do something extremely irresponsible and morally questionable.  No one is above the temptation.  Whether it was last week, last month, or last year, we all fall short of perfection.  But when a leader falls off the “leadership bus” and has a “stupid moment,” it should make us all pause and take inventory of our offices, influence, our calling and our deep connection to others in the community we live in.  Hopefully we can avoid having these major “stupid moments” like the mayor, but here are 4 things to consider before having a “stupid moment.”

Definition of a Stupid Moment:  A moment in time when you think you can get away with something that you know in your heart is not only wrong, but compromises your reputation, family and your legacy.

4 Things To Do Before Having The “Stupid Moment

1. Set Up Safeguards – The best way to not have a stupid moment is to NOT put yourself in compromising situations.  There are three primary areas you need to safeguard yourself in,  what I like to call the three P’s of integrity.  These have the power to end your career, public service or ministry and damage your integrity: PRIDE, POSSESSIONS, and PLEASURE.  Our desire for more power, more stuff and our inability to stay morally pure will destroy us.  YOU MUST set up safeguards to protect yourself against even the appearance of impropriety.  For every person and leader the safeguards are different, but my practical safeguards include avoiding morally questionable situations with the opposite sex.  This may seem extreme, but I won’t go out for coffee with any woman alone in ANY circumstance.  It just isn’t worth the risk to me.  In addition, as a pastor, I don’t handle ANY money from the church.  I am not a signer on any bank accounts and if you hand me money, I will hand it back to you.  I also serve alongside a board and staff that has the ability to question decisions of mine all the time.  You have to empower people to disagree with you in order to be a good leader.

Question:  What safeguards do you need to set up, RIGHT NOW?

2.  Consider Your Own Vision – If you don’t have a compelling life vision, you are more likely to wing it in your character.  One of the things that has kept me from taking moral shortcuts is keeping my goals and calling in front of me.  Whenever there is an opportunity to cheat, (and there will be opportunities), I ask myself this question.  Will I be able to sleep tonight with a clear conscience if I do this?  If the answer is no, well, I need to move on quickly.  Trust is developed over a lifetime and then disappears in a day.  The longer you entertain the thoughts of compromise, the more likely you are to have a “stupid moment.”  If you know who you are, what you are about and what you are trying to accomplish in life, you are less likely to fall on your face in your character.  Your vision has to be so compelling that others never question what you are about.

Question:  How does your vision need to be refined to be made compelling?

3.  Be Very Afraid, Fear and Honor Your ‘Office’ Above Yourself – There is nothing wrong with a fear and reverence for a position.  As a matter of fact, many leaders in our country have lost their sense of honor for the offices they hold.  How can you tell if you don’t honor the role? One word, ENTITLEMENT.  As we develop leaders for roles and positions in our church to benefit the community, I sniff out the evil of entitlement and squash it as fast as I can.  If you work with me and you become entitled, you may find yourself out of a job.  If you are entitled you will be lazy and lazy people make terrible public servants, entrepreneurs, police officers etc.

Question:  What do you think your job ‘owes’ you?

4. Think of Your Mom – And wife, and children, and co-workers, and constituents and the list just goes on and on.  I said at the beginning of this post, the day of sentencing was probably most difficult for Bencivengo’s mother. How do I know this?  Consider Jesus at the cross:  We know from what the bible says that His mother was at the foot of the cross weeping while they crucified Jesus.  Your actions don’t just have consequences for you, but all of your family, friends and every person you serve.  You will either redeem or reduce people’s opinion of your role and the organization you  serve by how you serve faithfully.

Question:  Is there any behavior you are participating in that is moral grey area?

I hope we can all show grace to former Mayor Bencivengo and his family.  Our job is to now heal and move on.  Hopefully the integrity and belief in our municipal, civic and corporate leaders in our township will be restored quickly.  I am saddened in my heart for what we have endured as a community, but I forgive and move on. Will you choose to forgive?  Our community will be better off if we don’t hold grudges.  If you are honest with the questions above, I am confident our township will once again be restored to honor and we will once again trust our public officials.

 

Pastor Josh Conn is the Pastor of 217church in Hamilton Township, NJ.  217church holds services at the AMC24 theaters in Hamilton every Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00am and is a church dedicated to serving the needs of Hamilton and surrounding mercer county communities.

What’s Your Dream?

Stare into this man’s eyes long enough and he will inspire you to believe in something much bigger than yourself.  This week, we celebrate his birthday and his selfless work for ALL marginalized people.  Born in Atlanta in 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King was in the prime of his life and impact when he was murdered on the balcony of a hotel at the young age of 39.  He transformed the landscape of our country.  We should not seek to idolize King, but we should learn from him a lesson that has eternal ramifications.  Make your DREAM worth it.

“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”  Joel 2:28

Dreaming is dangerous as well as powerful.  When you dream you not only take a risk, but you will probably alienate people.  Some of us don’t feel like we can dream anymore, but THERE IS HOPE.  Dreaming isn’t just for the young, it is for everyone.  Let this post cause you to listen for a new dream from Jesus himself.

Getting a Dream Worth Dreaming

1. Ask What Breaks God’s Heart?  Dreaming starts with the Gospel of Jesus, not a self-help book.  The reason Jesus came to a broken world was not to leave us where we are, but to bring His kingdom here in all its fullness.  The good news is he chooses to use us through listening to HIS dream.  He is coming back for us.  But before he does that, there is work to do and dreams to fulfill.  To find out what breaks God’s heart, here are a few simple things I am learning to do:

  • Seek scripture – What has God already told us to do that we don’t have to really think about or question?  I remember 7 years ago sitting on my back deck reading this scripture from Isaiah 61:1:  “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…”  This is as clear as it gets.  You never have to ask Jesus if it’s okay if you visit a prison.  It’s right there in black and white!
  • Observe culture – Look around and see how people are suffering.  It doesn’t have to be food and clothing, but it should be a problem that needs addressing.  Teen suicide, slavery, teen pregnancy, child abuse, domestic violence, the fatherless, sex trafficking, education, special needs children, mental illness.  There is no excuse not to have a dream and if you aren’t helping others, you aren’t living a God-dream.

2. Ask What Breaks Your Heart? – Certain people are drawn to certain causes for a variety of different reasons, but if you are willing to ask God to break your heart for something, watch out!  A dream and a vision is coming that you will carry for the rest of your life that will drive you to wake up in the morning as well as keep you up at night.  How do you know what your heart breaks for?

  • Look at your scarsYou will minister most out of the pain in your life.  Maybe it is something you endured 10 years ago, but in season, God wants to redeem that pain to progress!  I have seen over and over again people who have been through excruciating pain and suffering, turn it around to benefit others.  DON’T WASTE YOUR SUFFERING!
  • Look at your skills  God gifts you to use your talents to increase the care and compassion to a hurting world.  If you are gifted at something, start now in using that gift to minister to those who are heartbroken.
  • Deal with what scares you – Fears often turn into huge areas of impact and great ministry.  Do you think MLK was never afraid of what might happen to him?  I think not.  He was no doubt at one point a bit afraid of his dream, and I wonder how long it took him to get over his own fear.  My wife and I are adopting from Uganda in the next 18 months, and it took us a while to activate our faith in God’s dream simply because of fear. 

3. Ask Where Is The Greatest Need? – If you have to have an event or a feel good moment to activate a dream, let these words be your permission to receive the dream God has for youSee the need and seize the moment!  I want you to pick one thing and just DO SOMETHING!  You need to realize that no dream is too small.  It doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing for the rest of your life, but if you are willing to be faithful with a little, God will expand your influence and give you a dream worth dying for.

My Conclusion This is room for more like Martin Luther King Jr.  I believe there is a generation rising up that will activate God-sized dreams and usher in great hope for a hopeless generation.

Let these words from Martin Luther King Jr’s last speech inspire your dreams…

“And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over.  And I’ve seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight.  I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…

May your dream be inspired by the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus for the Lord is coming.

Josh

 

P.S. I would love to have you join me, as I will be speaking at the Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Thursday, January 17th at 7 PM at Faith Baptist Church in Hamilton.  Directions Here

 

Back To Work

It’s Back to Work!  The parties are over, the break is done, and for most of us today signals going back to work and school. After much needed time with family, friends and some people we wish we could have avoided, the new year demands productivity.  I wanted to drop you a few ideas about WORK in the new year.  We spend so much time in our week working and thinking about work, why not make the most of it?

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

I remember my first day of official work.  I was so excited and motivated to make money.  C’mon, we all know why you applied for your first job, but since then my motivations have changed.

Why Work?

1. Bring Honor To God – Remember you don’t just work for your boss, but you are representing Jesus to all of your co-workers as well.  Maybe you have seen the bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.”  Okay, it’s a bit cheesy, but if you work to please Him, I can almost guarantee honor, character, and reputation will advance you.

2. Bring The Gospel to The Workplace – It cracks me up when I hear of workplaces banning talk about “religious topics”.  As if we shut off our character and life purpose while we work.  What boss wouldn’t want employees to follow at least the 2nd of two commandments Jesus told us to live out?  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Or how about other commandments, “do no covet, do not steal, do not bear false witness.”  (Exodus 20)  Sounds to me like the best place to work, ever.

3. Bring A Listening Ear – How do we bring the Gospel to the workplace?  Talk less, listen more.  It all starts with caring about the people you work with, and then when the time is right, the opportunity will come to listen, serve and even pray with the people at your work.

Remember, above all else, you are there to bring glory to God.  Work hard, make him look good, make her succeed, and in the end, you will have done your job.

Work hard!

 

Training Matters

Every day after high school, I would jog down to the track and get the days training schedule from my track coach, Mr. Graves.  He always knew what I needed and helped me to be a better, more disciplined runner.  As a freshman starting high school track, there was so much excitement and vigor around doing the exact workout he wanted us to do.  But about two weeks into the season, as the miles began to pile up along with the sore muscles, I wasn’t as enthusiastic.  I was a 14-year-old undersized boy dragging myself to the track every day.  It was painful, and to be honest there were some days I not only didn’t want to train, I wanted to quit.  I began to wonder if this whole “track” thing was for me.   This Sunday at 217church we will discover some key truths about what TRAINING has to do with us being a church on mission.

Proud of my kids as they finished their first ever race!

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.”  1 Corinthians 9:25

Training is tough work.  It isn’t glamorous putting in all those miles when no one is looking and your race is sometimes months away.  But one thing we forget: God is preparing us for what is next, even when we don’t feel like it matters.  Trust me, It all matters!  In every difficult situation and every phase that seems harder and harder, God is constantly teaching and training us.  Here are some hints to train smarter in every area of your life:

4 Hints on Training

1. Be Realistic – Most of us think we can do more than we actually can.  In our spiritual lives, reaching the goals Jesus wants us to achieve has to do with us being realistic about our training.  As we enter into the new year, be realistic about what you can achieve and what you can handle.  God will not give you more than you can handle and remember not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to.

2.  Have a Long Term View – In a world of instant gratification, it’s those who see the future race while they train that excel the most. I have seen so many people, marriages, athletes, small group leaders, pastors, friends, and co-workers burn out and flame out because of a lack of long term perspective.  The more I can connect today’s activity to the vision of the big picture, the more meaningful the training becomes.  This means that you have to pace yourself. Perspective will lead to better training.

 3. Get A Good Plan – Once you have a long term perspective, you need a training plan.  Sure some of the things you will learn will be on “accident”, but intentionality matters when it comes to personal growth.  Identify key areas of your life where you want to grow, then ask what is one action that will lead me to the end vision.  A good plan keeps you on track, encourages you along the way and provides confidence and enthusiasm.  This also allows you to trust God’s voice.  If God gives you the plan to execute and you see results, it helps you to trust him more.  By the way, if He changes the plan mid stream, it doesn’t mean you were “wrong,” it means that now you are at a different place in your training and He wants you to go further!  Once my track coach saw I had mastered certain runs, he changed it up and this allowed me to run faster!

4. Execute with Accountability – Training alone is NEVER as good as training with a coach.  Once you have a plan, YOU MUST SHARE IT!  If you think you are better alone, you have a pride problem.  If you think your ideas are the best, you have a trust problem.  Still not a believer?  Here is why accountability makes you better:

  • You’ll Feel A Sense of Urgency – If you have the habit of training with someone, you are less likely to sleep in on your workout partner.  The easiest way for me to go on a run is to take someone with me.
  • You’ll Want Others To Succeed– When I actively train with someone, I find myself wanting them to finish strong as well!  It’s not about me beating them, but helping them.  It is harder to feel tired and sorry for yourself when you are helping someone else succeed in their plan.
  • You’ll Finish Stronger – When you are at the end of your training, others can push you when you don’t think you have energy left.  Trust me!  There is usually more left than you think there is.

Now let me leave you with this thought:  I was far from the best athlete on my track team, but I will say this.  There weren’t very many people who out-trained me.  My philosophy was train hard and the results will come.  Training hard may not lead to a championship but it will lead to character and respect.  As you live on mission this week, Train hard or go home!  I believe in you church!

Josh