Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"If We're Going To Win... It Should Be Hard."

I like things easy. People try to tell me that I shouldn't, but the reality is that I do. People say things like, "Easy come, easy go" or "You'll appreciate things more if you have to work hard to get it." And I always think to myself... "Suuuure... But you wouldn't say that if you won the lottery."

Last night I was watching the Celtics get embarrassed by the Lakers. At halftime ABC showed a recap  of the entire series. One of the clips was of Doc Rivers. He was walking toward the locker room after Game 5 and he said this, "We gotta win one in LA. It's going to be very hard. But if we're going to win, it should be hard." And it hit me. Winning should be hard.

God doesn't place things in our hand, but rather places them within our reach and makes us stretch and fight a little for them. This is the first time in my life that things aren't simply falling into my lap, and although I hate it, I love it. I love it because I feel dependent on God. I love it because I'm praying more. I love it because it's making me evaluate what I really want and what I'm willing to fight for. I love it because it's producing character within me. I love it because I'm learning how strong and weak I am. Challenges reveal the truth. How strong or weak a person is can't be determined when God is showering down blessings, but rather how a person overcomes adversity and wins despite the odds. 

Don't look for the open doors. Look for the ones that are cracked open just a little bit. All through the Bible God calls men and women to overcome the most insurmountable odds. It never looks like it's going to work out at the start. It always looks like a closed door at the start. But then God shows up, and His power becomes evident in light of human weaknesses.

Many of the challenges that have been placed before me seem impossible. But instead of focusing on my weaknesses I've chosen to fixate on His power. Maybe there are challenges befor you that seem impossible...

Letting go of a toxic relationship.
Getting over a heartbreak.
Getting the girl that rejects you all the time.
Ending a habitual pattern of sin in your life.
Becoming the man of God you know you should be.
Becoming the husband, or wife you know God has called you to be. 
Chasing the dream that haunts you.

Indeed impossible. I will never say that any of those things are possible. What I will declare though is that I worship and love a God for whom nothing is impossible. I will declare that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Doc Rivers was right. Winning should be hard. That's why people that win the lottery go broke. Chase the impossible, God is on your side. And that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Live Dangerously.

The other day I overheard a group of old people talking after church. I wasn’t really paying attention because I’m not nosy, but fortunately I happened to catch a few lines of their conversation. They’ve been bouncing around in my mind ever since and now they've landed here.

Ever since I was young, I've always thought I would do something great. I thought I was going to be the first black president (someone beat me to it), and fly fighter jets for the air force, and play in the NFL, all while being a successful stockbroker. I pretty much had it all worked out in my head. Even as a kid all that mattered was that I did something significant with my life, something that was going to leave an impact on the world, something that would remain long after I died. I never wanted to be ordinary… because honestly, nobody remembers ordinary people.

So about that conversation...  One of the old men remarked, “I don’t remember anywhere in Scripture where God says you have to wait for some church to give you a bunch of money before you go and do what He’s called you to do”. The conversation those old people had on Sunday reminded me of those childhood dreams. The snippet of their conversation reminded me how much I don’t want to be ordinary. I daydream about traveling the world, preaching to the masses, seeing lives changed, and cities transformed… then I come to back to reality and I’m reminded of everything I don’t have and all that could get in the way of my dreams, I’m reminded how far fetched my dreams are and how it would just be easier to do something safe.

That old guys' statement reminded me that with dreams come risks. If your going to dream you got to be willing to live dangerously. You have to be willing to cast aside security in order to run after everything that has been put in your heart. Generally I’m a pretty calculated individual, the majority of the things in my life are planned in advance because I’m not a huge fan of failure or surprises, but the thought of dreams unfulfilled is making me more and more comfortable with the idea of living dangerously. I would rather fail chasing after what's in my heart than settle for a life that's ordinary and safe.

Lately I have been really thinking hard about my next step in life. I graduate college in six months and I’m far from certain about what the next chapter of my life has in store for me. I don’t have a serious job, I don’t have significant debt, I don’t have a girlfriend (I’m accepting applications though...), but I’m terribly unimpressed with the idea of living a normal life.

All I really have… is DREAMS.
But maybe that's all I really need.
Maybe my dreams are from God... what a wild thought. 

What are your dreams?
What dreams have you cast aside as too far fetched?
What would you do with your life if you knew you could not fail?
Have you settled for the ordinary?

Maybe it's time to live dangerously... for Jesus of course.

Love, Life, Christ,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Friday night at Revolution143 (the youth group I work with) we decided to have praise and worship for three hours. No sermon. Just music, dance and shouts of joy. As I sat in the back of the dark sanctuary and watched our kids krump and dance in true freedom I was almost moved to tears. The way they worship seems to explode from within them, pouring out from the well in their souls. It's beautiful.

Saturday I had the priveledge of catching up with some old friends at a dance studio and sat in on thier practice. Four of my friends are steppers and two of them tap. I watched them practice for a while then began wandering around the studio watching other groups and teams practice everything from modern and contemporary to ballet and tap. After that I went to church and watched the last hour of Revolution143's dance team as they rehearsed a routine for Sunday morning. Their good. Their not like most churchy/liturgical dancers... their actually good. And it's beautiful.

It's beatiful.

There's something about dance that moves me, that stirs something within me and intrigues me... and so this post is dedicated to dance and all those who stir my soul and make me want to shake what my mother gave me. 

Why do we even do this thing called dance?
Why do we feel the need to express ourselves physically?
Are words not enough to communiticate what we feel?

Because there is something about the human spirit that cannot merely express with words the transendance and glory of God. There's something about the granduer and glory of God that moves us... literally. Christian and non-Christians alike are trying to express that there something "bigger than themselves".

For some reason all throughout the Old Testament people are dancing. David even dances to the point of indescretion? God instructs His people to worship Him in song and dance. There's an underlying assumption that it is impossible to express ourselves with mere words and logic... it's almost as if God is saying, "I'm the God that moves you."

So often in Western culture we seek to cognitively understand this mysterious and great God instead of just being moved by Him. My host mom in Uganda was far from a theologian, I'll never forget going to church with her and seeing her dance and be moved by God's presence.

Where words can no longer express what the Spirit feels... we dance.
With hearts filled with gratitude towards a God who loves us and knows us... we dance.
With clumy movements or with intricate detail and control... we dance.

There's a rythm to the universe that God has created. A rythm to life. Have you ever seen someone dance off beat? Have you ever heard a bad drummer? Or heard someone rap that doesn't know how to flow to a beat? Have you ever seen a white gospel choir try to sway back and forth while clapping and singing? Have you ever seen or heard someone that simply lacks rythm? It's irritating to watch. It's distracting. It's hilarious. It's almost painful sometimes.

So it is with people that live outside the rythm that God has established for relationships, and family, and career, and every other aspect of life. Our lives were built to fit inside a certain rythm. Our hearts were meant to beat to a certain drum. A life that is outside of God's rythm is like watching someone clap and dance of beat. A life of worship is a life lived in rythm with God in obediance and submission to His Way, The Way. Once our inner lives are in rythm with His life (John 15:5), our public expressions of worship and dance and praise will follow suit. And it will be beautiful.

An inability of words to fully describe something is felt in this very post. I can try to explain the goosebumps I felt the first time I saw our guys Krump to "Hosanna", but you would still have to see it. I can try to explain Benito's heart as sweat poured down his face on Sunday as He danced his heart out before God, but you would still have to see it.

I leave you with this video. Rami this post was especially for you. The way that you work with our kids is beautiful. You should have your own studio. I love you. You move me.

Inlet Dance Theatre from John Carl on Vimeo.