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Posts Tagged ‘Andy Stanley’

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I have lived in many different places. Ambition and drive are always present, but wear different masks. When I lived in DC drive looked like competition of the corporate ladder. Business suites, politics, and salary were the measure of one’s success. Nashville wears the mask of image and fame. The drive looks like the comparison of creativity and talent.

The competition of success becomes the filter through which we relate to others and view ourselves.

We live in a measurable culture. Andy Stanley calls it the “comparison Trap.” We are constantly looking to the right and left to see where we measure up against that of other people. We develop judgments through conversations to determine if we are “okay.” We are constantly drawing conclusions that sound like, “well I’m better than that person, or further ahead, but I am not that person.”

What determines success?

The easy answer is that money makes the bar of success. Maybe having a best seller is success, or a hit song. Success is whatever makes you considered the best in your field of determination. However, the issue with the false advertising of success is that the bar is unmeetable. There will always be someone who we will see has better or beneath us.

Success needs redefining. Success needs a new outlook.

Matt Chandler has opened my eyes to what success should look like – what it really is. In his book Explicit Gospel, he talks about how the prophets in the bible would not be considered successful by our culture’s standards.  Chandler states,

Now if Isaiah was a minister within today’s evangelicalism, he’d be considered and utter failure. Jeremiah would be an utter failure. Moses didn’t get to enter the promise land. John the Baptist didn’t get to see the ministry of Jesus. We would not view the ministry of these men as successful. One of the things we don’t preach well is that ministry that looks fruitless is constantly happening in the scriptures. We don’t do conferences on that. There aren’t too many books written about how you can toil away all your life and be unbelievably faithful to God and see little fruit this side of Heaven. We have to be wary of the idea that numeric growth and enthusiastic response are always signs of success.

I read about these guys and think, “Wow! They were doing something – they had audiences, and followers. They were speaking words that mattered.” However, the truth is that not many people listened to them, well at least for Isaiah and Jeremiah. Isaiah was out right rejected for his message and obedience. Do we consider them successful because they are now known and “famous?”

Chandler states that, “faithfulness is success. Obedience is success.”

There is a tension of wanting to do more to be more. Drive and passion are good, but faithfulness and character matter more. Success should be driven by how we treat people – how marriage shows commitment and loyalty. Success should look like celebrating the gifts and talents of others while being great at where you are presently.

Success and failure should not be defined by comparison. Small things matter. You gifts and your heart matters. How you are faithful and obedient to those abilities given to you is what success is. Love well. Wait well. Celebrate other people often. Be successful at who you are, not what you do.

What is frustrating to you about success?

What is your comparison trap?

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Awareness is a bittersweet thing.

Sometimes, I would love to just be blissfully unaware of the “good” things around me, as well as what other people have.

As kids, we learn so quickly what want feels like. This only happens when we experience someone else having, or doing something, we want to do. There is an unfairness that rises up in our hearts. With eyes wide open awareness sets in and the fruit of want takes root.

I am one who struggles with jealousy. It is the thorn in my side. I actually find this struggle to be real with leaders. I would consider myself a strong leader and one who leans into that role predominately.

Jealousy raises its ugly head in me when I start to compare myself to others. Jealousy is conceived in me when I start to compare myself to what others have. This could be monetary things or just influence.

Andy Stanley talks a lot about the losing battle of comparison in a great sermon series he does. In that series he talks about how the Pharisees are jealous of Jesus because He has the crowd. There jealousy eventually leads them to crucifying Jesus.

I get that. If jealousy is left unattended, pain and even death is inevitable.

Andy states that “there is no win, satisfaction, or finish line when it comes to comparison.”

We are not meant to compare ourselves with the successions, failures, gifts, talents, influences, and even life stories of others. When we place our eyes on the lives of others, we miss out on the life we are meant to live.

I suck at the comparison battle.

My eyes wander and my awareness of want grows. Jealousy is my weakness.

We live in a culture of comparison.

Honestly, there are times I just need to step back from platforms like Twitter that can be a breeding ground for comparison. Everyday I can see one who is five steps ahead of me in my dream life. It’s just plain hard.

This past week, I was blessed to attend Story Conference in Chicago. I loved it. However, I also learned that conferences are filled with temptations to compare. So many awesome people doing awesome things and it always makes me wonder if I’m good enough. This week as I head down to the ATL for Catalyst, my awareness for comparison is heightened.

Jealousy is a battle.

There is no freedom in comparison.

As far as I can remember our culture has lived by the mantra of “keep up with Jones.”

As long as we are running life’s race to keep up with our “Jones” there is no room for the life we are meant to live. It is impossible to celebrate anyone else in the state of comparison.

I feel like I have wasted too much time comparing myself to others. I want to be a person who celebrates the gifts and victories of others. I want to mourn with those who feel the pain of failure. More importantly, I just want to be ok with where I am and what I have.

Are you?

“What or who are you using as a reference point to determine whether or not you’re okay?”

“Are you exhausted from trying to keep up with ______?”

“Are you allowing what others have to keep you from enjoying what you have?”

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Grace is a struggle. 

I can’t wrap my head around it.

I can’t even look grace in the eye. 

It is the hardest thing for me to accept. 

Grace is a tug a war in my heart. Grace is what tethers compassion and forgiveness together.

Grace overcomes.

I am feeling the weight of grace today. I am feeling the weight that grace extended to me by God was unmerited, undeserved, and unearn-able.

I have always struggled on the receiving side of grace. I usually punish myself first and then think about grace. I don’t know with the uncomfortable position of grace. I don’t know how to posture myself up against grace.

Andy Stanley talks about grace enters when something of value has be robbed for another. 

I HATE hurting people. I hate the feeling of knowing I have hurt someone. It is the worst feeling for me. my heart sinks and my tears come fast.

I don’t know how to handle extended grace well.

I wonder if I extend grace well.

I desire to stare humility in the face long enough to extend grace first. I know grace because grace was given to me first.

As my savior hung on a cross to Grace me first, my only choice is grace to be given. 

Lord, let me never forget the weight of your grace. Forgive me for my lack of grace and the humility to accept it.

Where do you struggle with grace?

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The bible is filled with amazing stories of miracles and wonders. Jesus did incredible things. He healed the sick, and raised the dead; gave the blind person sight and the mute a voice.

Jesus was active. His abilities matched no other.

Homes and courts would overflow with people just trying to get a glimpse of him. People traveled from all over bringing their needs to place before him, and hear his words.

Jesus did illogically astonishing things.

I shake my head at the amazing things Jesus did; story after story of miracles and wonders. God’s abilities were seen very clear through Jesus. Nothing was impossible for Jesus.

I read some of these stories and wonder about the person who didn’t get healed by Jesus. Was there a person he did not touch or heal? Were there people he did not “come through for?

There is a harsh reality that I bet there was. There is a harsh reality that even today things happen that make us question God’s abilities.

This world is filled with things that happen and we wish God would do, or would have done, something.

There is a part in the bible that every time I read it I am left with the question of why? Hebrew 11 is a great chapter of incredible faith. However, it is also a sobering chapter of faith that would seem to cause a tension between what happens and God’s abilities.

Hebrews 11 talks about amazing people of faith. It goes on to describe people who had received back their dead raised to life, those who shut the mouths of lions, those who escaped the sword, and weakness turned into conquering power. In the same breath, there is a list of those who seemed to die by the sword, flogged, imprisoned, stoned and killed.

What do we do with the tension of when God seems to use his abilities and when he seems absent?

God is able.

He is also always doing things we do not see or can even grasp.

There are stories like Lazarus, one of Jesus’ closest friends, who was sick and Jesus waited to show up. John the Baptist, a man Jesus described as one of the greatest men who ever lived, stayed in prison while Jesus did not free him. Jesus, God’s own son, hung on a cross. Battered and beaten, Jesus hung on a cross.

Many mocked Jesus’ abilities to be able to save himself. They called out to him to pray and ask God to save him. Jesus never did.

Jesus never questioned the father’s abilities in the midst of his circumstances.

It is so hard to reconcile our circumstances and God’s abilities. It is easy to claim his abilities when they seem to be for us. What about claiming his character and ability when they seem to be absent and far?

Our circumstances do not reflect the way God feels about us.” Andy Stanley

How do your circumstances stir up in you thoughts and questions about God?

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Have you ever experienced a time where you found yourself in a waiting season?

I will admit to being a person who struggles when it comes to waiting.

Our fast paced culture does not enable waiting well. People who are waiting constantly look at their watches and are most likely agitated.

Waiting can be accompanied by fear as well. Waiting can stir up the fear that someone has forgotten us. Fears that arise when in a waiting season can challenge our sense of value.

How do you wait well?

How do you wait well when the season of waiting seems long?

Now waiting for the bus is way different then waiting on a dream or direction. Waiting can cause us to question and doubt. Waiting requires faith and trust. Those two words are very challenging.

Andy Stanley did a great series that tackled the question of, “what do you do when you feel like God is inattentive, uncooperative, and late?

All three of those words come to mind when experiencing a waiting season. I battle with those words a lot, and sometimes on a daily basis, in this waiting period. It is hard not to play the comparison game and even be jealous when it comes to waiting.

Waiting seasons challenge my faith and trust. Waiting is lonely.

Andy talked about a key verse that speaks directly into the heart of waiting. Jesus said, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

Such a powerful verse! This verse speaks to waiting. Waiting comes with the expectation that God should do something—that he should do something for me. Honestly, I have expected God to do something and act in my waiting. I used the words that God knows my situation; he is able to change it.

Ever felt like God is silent when you don’t think he should be? Ever felt like he must not care if he is not doing something?

We can start to equate our situations with how God feels about us.

Blessed are those who do not stumble when we feel like God is inattentive, uncooperative, and late. Blessed are those who choose faith even though the waiting continues. Blessed are those who choose to hope when hoping seems in vain. Blessed are those who still know God is able regardless of the waiting time.

I am holding on to the truth of Andy words that, “our situations do NOT reflect the way God feels about us.

I am working on waiting well. For me, that means not letting it affect the perception of my value and self-worth.

What does waiting well look like for you?

 

 

 

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I am a sucker for good wisdom and spoken truth. I love listening to podcasts of great speakers. I usually listen while I run. Let’s be honest, I need something to take my mind off of the running part.

There are times when a talk can just stick with me. I listened to one other day by Andy Stanley that was so challenging, and so good for my heart.

The essence of his message highlighted faith that does not waver when God seems to be “absent, inattentive or late.” This was such a powerful talk.

Andy stated something that I have been marinating on. He said, “When you go through something, I pray. When I go through something, I doubt.”

This statement is such a great faith challenge. We all experience times where God seems to feel inattentive and late to our situations. What do we do in the “in-between” times? We are great at praying for others, and believing God for their situations. However, in reality most other people’s circumstances do not challenge our faith. It is only when we experience something hard personally that our faith really gets challenged.

My faith is challenged by this statement; even now I sit waiting and wondering if why God feels delayed. If I am being most honest, my heart is also confronted by just how selfish I really am.

When my faith wavers because I think God is being inattentive, or late, my expectation is that God should be doing something for me. When I go through hard times, I expect God to show up and save me from it. Rarely is my first thought, “This circumstance has more to teach me than God just saving me from it.

What do we do when God seems absent, inattentive, and late?

We doubt

Usually when doubt starts to take root, we talk over. Self-sufficiency kicks in and we say, “Thanks, but no thanks God, I’ve got this.

I am becoming more and more aware of my doubt and selfishness. In my selfishness, I take over too often. I am realizing that I have not been waiting well. I have called my season “waiting”, but in some ways, I can see that I have just been hiding behind the term while selfishly trying to make life work.

I wish my first thought was to believe. I wish I more readily remembered what God has already done for me instead of demand more. I wish I waited well.

The truth, my faith needs some work. Faith is not what kicks in first. Faith is not the lenses through which I see my circumstances. I am working on my responses.

In what ways do you feel like God might be absent, inattentive, or late?

 

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Every Ipod has a section where you can view your most played songs. I have something similar to that list, but with most played sermons or podcasts. I love running or working out while listening to podcasts. It feels like being in church where ever I am.

On my most played list of podcasts, I have one by Andy Stanley. Andy did a sermon series called, “Destinations.” My most played podcast comes from the second talk of that series called, “Looking Ahead.” I have listened to that podcast for two weeks straight now. I have literally listened to it every other day. I cannot seem to shake the truth presented in that podcast.

There is so much great stuff packed into that podcast, but two points in particular have me marinating. The foundation of the series comes out of a verse from Proverbs 27:12, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

There is an unbelievable amount of wisdom in this small yet powerful verse. I can look back over my life and see direct examples of both sides of this verse. I have found there to be powerful truth in this verse. So much so that I want to pray this prayer for my life everyday.

The second point in this podcast that has me on my knees comes from a statement made by Andy. Andy stated that, “if you get lost on the road, you lose minutes, but if you get lost in life, you lose years and seasons.”

I see this truth played out in the bible as well. The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years trying to make an eleven day trip. Without considering the path you are on, or not responding wisely to the percieved danger makes for some added laps around the desert.

Today was a perfect illustration of this verse for me. Computers are frustrating for me. Today my computer lit up with warnings of all kinds of viruses and attacks. I could have ignored the bold red signs of danger and suffered a computer crash as well as paying a lot of money to fix it. I listened to my computer and bought software to hopefully take care of the problem.

There are costs to both decisions. The wisdom of this verse applies to every area of our lives. It applies to every relationship, financial decision, job, direction, dreaming, and what path to stay on or maybe get off of.

I am encouraged to see how the fruit of this new prayer for me will play out. Take the challenge with me.

Where are you on your path?

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