Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post — Time to Start Again

* I often search the internet for great blogs that are influential to both me and others around me.  Last week I came across this post from Chance Scoggins and with permission I bring it to share with all of you onebeat followers out there.

In my last post, I shared one of my favorite quotes, “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.”  You and I are not made for the harbor either, but many of us settle for shallow waters to avoid doing the work required to live the life we were meant to live.  I was stunned by the response, and I’ll be chewing on the comments and emails I received for a long while.

One email that stood out came from Lisa, who wrote, “I think it’s too late for me.  I had a shot at a great life when I was younger, but I missed my chance.  Now my circumstances won’t allow me to change things.  My life is what it is.  I’m stuck.”

Lisa wrote what most of us have felt at times, or maybe even feel now.  And her letter reminded me of a pivotal conversation I had with my Mom many years ago that shapes much of my thinking today.

I was debating the possibility of making what felt like a big change.  To take hold of a certain opportunity, I’d have to let go of some safe and comfortable things about my life.  I’d have to trade security for the chance at something better.  But if I failed, I might lose what I had to begin with.  I was nervous and confused, so I’d made no choice at all.  I just stood still and did nothing.  As I laid out my options, Mom was only half listening.  She already knew something I was about to learn.

“Can I tell you something, Chance?  Looking back over my life at 58, I know some things now I wish I’d known earlier.”

“Like what?”

She paused, thinking it over, then said, “Nothing is ever as final as it looks at the time”.

“Okay…  What are you thinking of specifically?”

“I could give you a lifetime of examples, but one is when you were just a kid and your Dad started his business.  He asked me to join him, and I was scared to death to leave my job.  It was the only secure thing in our lives, and I was afraid to give it up.  It seemed reckless to me to leave a steady paycheck and benefits, especially with a young family.”

“But you did it”.

“I did it because my belief in your Dad was bigger than my fear.  But trust me, my fear was still big enough to make us both miserable.”  I laughed.  “I’m glad he’s not here right now.  Don’t tell him I said he was right.”  I laughed again.

“You’ll make your share of mistakes, even if you’re careful, Chance”, she said.  “The good news is, as long as you’re breathing, you’ve still got time to start again.”

(I love that.  Even writing the words all these years later does my heart some good.)

“From where I’m sitting now, I see that we had plenty of time to fail and start again.  Of course, at the time I felt like it was make or break.  But in reality, we could have failed and started over at 30 – and failed again, and started over at 40 – and even again at 50.  It doesn’t always feel like you CAN take a risk when you’re in it.  But I see now that nothing is forever, even success, even failure.  And more often than not, life honors bold moves… that is, assuming you’re bold, and not just stupid.”

Classic Mom.

She got quiet for a moment, and I could feel something new settling on her.  “You know what else?”, she said.  “I’ve been telling myself I’m too old to learn to swim for 40 years.  Now how ridiculous is that?  And I’ve told myself I’m too old to go back to school for 35.  But even if I’d returned to school at 50, I’d have my degree and could be teaching by now if I wanted.  You see?  Nothing’s as final as it seems.  There’s always time to start again…  In fact, I might just take a few classes next semester.”

“Great – and I’ll sign you up for swimming lessons tomorrow.”

“Don’t push it, buddy.”

We were soon on to something else, but I’ve carried that conversation with me ever since.  For me, it’s taken the sting out of risk, and even failure.  And as I’ve thought about it over the years, I’ve come to realize that Mom and Dad did start again – and again – and again.  Maybe we all do.  Maybe that’s the big lesson of life.

As long as we’re breathing, we’ve still got time to start again.

You, me… and you too, Lisa.

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Let’s meet our author.  Professionally speaking, Chance has built a successful career as a studio singer, songwriter and music producer.  His truest passion is cultivating potential in others, to help them become who they were created to be.  Chance has a lot of other great posts at http://www.chancescoggins.com and you can follow him on twitter @chancescoggins.

Guest Post — Daring to be Epic

Just recently the movie “The Avengers” came out and quickly began a dominant box-office run, pulling in over a billion dollars in just a few weeks. The story, epic in its size and scope, revolves around a group of superheroes (flawed of course to add to the drama!) who combat an evil alien brother and his evil alien army. The stakes are high as the entire world hangs in the balance, but aren’t they always? With a superhero movie coming at least once a year, how are these films still able to draw such crowds? Is it all about the excellent CGI and one-liners or do these films reveal something deeply embedded in the human psyche and in human desire? Why do we love epic stories?

So first, what is an epic?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an epic can be a noun or an adjective. The nouns traditionally refer to poetry such as the Iliad or the Odyssey that celebrates heroes, the adjective refers to the quality of heroic action. You can say, that movie is epic, or, that character is acting epic. In short, an epic is about heroes and their great deeds and actions.
It is worth noting that of the top 10 grossing films, half are epic in nature: Avatar, Harry Potter, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Star Wars Episode 1. Why are they so popular?

We are hard-wired for the heroes of epics

Let me cut to the chase: we are hard-wired for the stuff of epics. It’s a natural part of who we are. No matter the age, young or old, we love what epics bring to us. We love heroes, heroic deeds, worldwide salvation, and global peace from enemies from within and without. As a Christian, the very best story is the one about how God formed a counsel of action before time, then entered into time to save a world from the sin and rebelliousness within us and the demonic forces from outside of us, and succeeding triumphantly through the most unexpected of means: His own death, only to be found innocent and righteous and thus resurrected to life, never to die again, and ascending up to heaven to establish His kingdom throughout every nation before returning again to lead the world into eternity, for good and ill. Our Hero does not lose, He has no flaws or weaknesses, yet He is still humble and gentle while remaining all-powerful. Whew! If that’s not epic then I don’t know what is! And, we are invited into Jesus’ redemptive work on the entire world, working alongside Jesus. Who could ask for a better epic to be a part of?

Yet our lives don’t always seem so epic

It seems that from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, my life can seem a bit mundane. Yes I have a part in the epic that God is doing through Christ and His church, but I don’t always feel the excitement. The excitement of hearing from God through His Word or praying for the salvation of real people is sometimes sorely lacking in me. At times I can feel that being obedient is frankly a bore, if I’m honest with myself. If Jesus is saving the world and I am a part of it, then why doesn’t my life feel a bit more…epic? Perhaps you know what I mean. Where is the action in our own lives? If we’re hard-wired for epics then why aren’t we living one out in our own lives, playing our part in the great drama of Christ’s redemption of the world?

Two solutions

There are two solutions that people will go to feel that excitement, things in Christ or things outside of Christ. Things outside of Christ, like pornography or video games (and I’m not saying video games are necessarily a sin, though they can be) or even Jackass-level pranks can be exciting. They can give the feeling that what is being done is truly epic, but it is a very small epic. It cannot compare to a true epic because its scope is too small and its effect too little. For the person who is level 80 on WOW, their epic is as small as their computer screen, merely shut it off and the epic is over. These things are imitation epics only.
The other solution is to confess that our own passions for epics are too easily hijacked for lesser imitations and begin working with God on His epic: the salvation of the world. We confess that our passions are too weak for what God has in mind and then begin working with God. We pray, we read His Word, and we act. We act out our part of the epic. Where can you start? Open up God’s word.

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Kyle Pash is 22 years old and happily married to his wonderful wife Jessica Pash. Currently they are both teaching English to elementary students in Korea and they are excited for what God has in store for them next.

 

Guest Post – 12 Words of Encouragement for Pastors (or Other Leaders)

**I found this post today at http://www.ronedmondson.com.  I hope this post blesses you as much as it did me! — Jason

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned that many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

Recently I had a pastor ask me for my “best advice” for other pastors. Wow! That’s hard to say. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all that I’ve learned. It could probably fill a book or two…but at least more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one that I would give to all pastors, to answer his question. I’m sure there’s more (and you can help by adding yours), but this post is at least a start. Of course, wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words around and I’d give this advice to any leader…some of them perhaps to any person.

Here are 12 words of encouragement for pastors:

Choose your friends wisely…but choose friends. Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it.

The church can never love your family as much as you do. Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (You may want to read THIS POSTfrom my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”

If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you. You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else…for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing…but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

You have influence…use it well. The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t. Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry.

No amount of accountability or structure will keep you from temptation if you’re heart is impure. Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.

Let God lead. You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours.

If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger. Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time.

Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church. You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus.

Your personal health affects the health of the church. Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.

The people in your church deserve authenticity. Not only will be honest about who you are help keep you from trying to meet unreal expectations, but it will help the people in your church be transparent with you and others. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it…not just teaching it.

You’ll never make everyone happy. If you try, you’ll be very unhappy…and very unproductive.

Now, make this post better. As you can count, there are only 11 here. I’m counting on you to add your best number 12.

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About Ron EdmondsonChurch planter and pastor with a heart for strategy, leadership and marketing; especially geared toward developing churches and growing and improving the Kingdom of God.

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