Don’t worry…

September 12, 2013

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Today I wanted to share with each of you what seems to consume us at times in our lives, WORRY.  There are many things we find ourselves worrying about.  Are we going to meet the deadline?  Are we going to have enough money at the end of the month?  Am I ever going to find a job I enjoy?  Will I ever get married?  So many worries, and so much time lost worrying.  I cannot help but recognize what Jesus teaches about worry, but more importantly asks…Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (Matthew 6:27)

This past weekend I able to teach about this excerpt from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount(Matthew 6:25-34) to our children at Lutheran Church of Hope Ankeny.  It was a focus during our weekend services as Pastor Scott Rains shared a message(listen here).  I hope to continue to encourage and provide you with resources to help you consider what God is speaking to you through my writing.  I believe He is alive and well in our lives, and I know that I cannot take credit for what begins to stir in your heart after you take time to read what I have shared and/or what I have resourced you with such as scripture references, message links, book recommendations or videos.  So as you read today, I want you to consider what are you worrying about today?

Worries come in all shapes and sizes.  In specific as of recent I have found worry hanging out in the sphere of work.  Will I have enough time to do what I need to do.  Hear me loud and clear, what me, myself and I need to do.  Where does our need to do something come from?  I am walking through a 21 day prayer devotion with my children’s ministry staff and God revealed to me something worth pondering.  Much of the worry that we may face as it relates to expectations comes from ourself or others.  God didn’t intend us to worry.  Many of the agendas we encounter in this world are created by imperfect humans.  As a result we often find ourselves trying to meet up to the expectations of others.  I believe that we have responsibilities that are important to do our best to manage.  This is a sweet spot for worry to hang out and if we were to be honest with ourselves and considered what it would look like to Take God Seriously in this arena of our life, we would be evaluating the expectations He has for us, learning to discern His plan!  So let’s address this worry, is it imposed on you by expectations of others or self imposed?

It may not take too long to realize that the source of worry comes back to one of these realms and we are setup to fail, primarily because we encounter unrealistic expectations.  Part of the process to remove worry is to evaluate many of the expectations in our lives, where do they come from, how do we manage them and what is the result of meeting up to the expectations?  This process has allowed me to take on a new view when it comes to managing these expectations.  God made it clear to me that I am limited in my capacity, and in many cases it is only through His power that a task is completed.  I have come to know and understand that it is His plan that will be carried out, regardless of how I plan for execution.  In many cases my plan and intentions, have not been carried out perfectly or as I had hoped.  On the back end I  trust that God will do what He needs to in His time.  I just hope and pray that each day that I will do my best!

Last night as I was preparing for our first night of PowerLife, our Junior High Ministry, time ran out to do everything I had hoped before the leaders and the students and it would have been easy to let the worry creep in.  I turned over some of the details to God and simply did my best!  Again, I look back on last night and recognize that I might have expected to do too much in preparation and was setting myself up for failure.  However what has been revealed in conversation with others and quite time this week, is that there is only one way to overcome worry.  It comes from the passage referenced earlier when Jesus challenges the people when He says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)  Are you hearing this?  Jesus not only is preaching this to the people of His time, but to us today!  Seek the Kingdom of God!  Above everything else!  First!  He(God) will give us everything we need!  Let that soak in.  Our needs that we come up with on our own, are not His needs.  Do you believe this?  Do you believe that God will provide your needs?!

Much of our worry as it relates to what we need comes from our own selfish desires and expectations, we find ourselves worrying to meet our needs, that we created.  Get rid of worry by asking God what He wants for us.  Ask God what our true needs are!  If this is new for you, please reach out to me.  I would love to talk through this, because I find worry fleeing as I have put more and more trust in God.  When the worry was removed last night as I turned it over to God, I was living the freedom of His presence as I delivered a message He had placed on my heart to share with the students and leaders.  If you turn your worry over to God, how might you better perform at whatever it is you are doing today? What freedom will it bring you?  Your worry may be coming from the expectations of the world, so be mindful to evaluate.  Turn the worry over and simply do your absolute best in the time you have today!  The Word comes from God through Jesus, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Give your best today…as a parent, child, friend, employee, athlete…in whatever you do!  Don’t worry, just give your best!  I will pray that in your best, God will carry out His plan!
Give your best


Ankeny United!

September 2, 2013

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Friday night under the lights is one of the many things I love about fall.  This fall in Ankeny, Iowa there is a new reality within the community.  After a number of years of preparation, the two schools faced off in their first Varsity matchup on the football field!  After a State Championship last year, this fall marks the beginning of a new era for football and sports in Ankeny.  There was much anticipation for the new rivalry established within a town that has been united around sports and activities for many years.

As an outsider, growing up just down the road in Urbandale, I have a different perspective and lens to look through than many of the families that have been in Ankeny for years, or teachers and coaches within the system.  There is no doubt tension that has grown within the community for a number of reasons, which can be overcome if we are ready to take it on as a community!

One example of the tension that I witnessed as I left on Friday night passing through the parking lot, High School students were screaming profanity and using name calling as a way to prove a point, leading to one car stopping and students getting out to walk back to the other car to get in the face of the other students.  All I could do is sit back and wonder, what up?

There is no doubt in my mind that God has brought me to Ankeny to have an impact in a time such as this.  I too believe there are many others, students and parents that too want to change the trajectory of the reality in Ankeny amidst the division that a High School split causes.  Or wait, is it the split that really causes division or is it people?  I believe it is people that get in the way.  I don’t expect others to take on my point of view, I do pray and hope that others ask God to speak into our lives and guide our steps, which may lead to a new perspective.  Maybe it will be more similar to how I am looking at it…

I consider this season in Ankeny to be a time God is calling us to stay united, continually cheering on our community in everything positive and life giving.  Why do we have to be enemies?  Why do we have to be victims to tension?  As a coach and former collegiate athlete, I definitely have a competitive nature but through a new perspective, looking at life through the lens of God, I have found that I no longer view others as enemies.  I am called to love others and this love carries forward in every facet of my life.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I struggle to love others, but when I coach I appreciate more and more the talents and abilities of our opponents to the extent that I would much rather praise their efforts than spend my energy boo’ing them.

Back to this past Friday night, while supporting the Ankeny Centennial Jaguars primarily because I’m a Jaguar Soccer Coach, I too found myself appreciating and even enjoying the good efforts and/or plays by the Ankeny Hawks.  This is all a matter of perspective to me.  It would have been easy to cheer against them like the hundreds of students and adults that chose to, but why?  First off, it does no good for those I’d be cheering against and it only encourages those I’m around to follow my lead.  I often am considering the impact of my actions and if I am completely honest I often find myself judging the actions of others.  My hope is to challenge others to act as though they would hope to be treated.  I mean how many of us wish there were hundreds of people cheering against us in work, in activities, in life?  Think of the power of hundreds cheering us on in the good things we do?  I know, football is just a game, but there are millions that enjoy playing the game and many gifted athletes who want to do their best.  Can we do our best to cheer them on to their best?

So let’s step away from this example and consider the bigger impact.  Ankeny is in a crucial season where we go one of two ways, we divide or remain united.  I choose the latter and hope many do as well.  I honestly believe we could be an example of a community that demonstrates a healthy rivalry, that leads up and demonstrates to the world around us that the split in school does not result in a split in the community. I look to scripture often to provide us encouragement and support in what we are doing.  Whether you find yourself a Christ follower or not, I ask us to all consider what Psalm 133 speaks to us…
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!

If Ankeny were to live in harmony, I truly believe we would become an example for the world to follow.  We can be example for many as they live their lives.  Consider the headlines, “Ankeny United”, living in unity with one another.  I think the message from this past weekend at Lutheran Church of Hope, “Why Can’t Christians Get Along?”, hits home as to the root of the problem when it comes to unity.  Take a listen to the message by clicking the link above.  You can also watch the video message by following the instructions below.

This is a God-sized dream, one that He has laid on my heart and I am praying that through me and many others, we can lead up, changing the reality of the future of this community.  Especially as a Christian, I am hoping to encourage and empower my other brothers and sisters in Christ to remain united on this front so we can lead others into harmony.  A couple of things are already happening that I find to be a result of God’s prompting in the lives of others and I have been blessed to partake.  First, a group of youth leaders from Ankeny area churches gathered for a worship service the night before school to promote unity amongst students as they began the new year.  Our prayer was to encourage students to stay united in Christ, no matter which school they were attending.  Another group of youth leaders from different churches, along with students and teachers gathered to encourage Christian community within schools.  As I have reflected on what God is doing, I have become more and more clear that He is calling for us to be UNITED!  To grow as a community seeking God’s guidance and direction as we live in the reality and tension of split schools.  God’s plan is different and if we live into His plan I believe this next season in the community of Ankeny could be more in line with God’s plan if we accept the challenge.

This is my context for unity.  What is your context?  How is this example speaking a new reality for you in your context?  Where is unity and harmony needed in your life?  What are we doing to seek harmony?  The truth is the more and more we seek harmony, the impact it has on the reality in our communities and the world!  Let’s get out of the way and live to serve, cheer on and support others!

*Instructions for video message:
1)  Visit link : hopeonline.tv
   2)  Go to “Since You Asked” Sermon Series
3)  Select “Why Can’t Christians Get Along” by Pastor Richard Webb