Saturday, March 6, 2010


I just finished watching "Miracle", which is the story of the US Olympic hockey team defeating the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. It is deemed one of the greatest upsets of all time. The average age of the US team was 21. The Soviets were seasoned veterans. The US team had been together for 7 months. The Soviets had skated together up to 15 years. The Soviets had won gold in the 4 prior Winter Olympics. The US wasn't even expected to contend for a medal.

So why did the US win? They gave everything they had. The trained relentlessly to be the best conditioned team so they could skate with the Soviets for an entire game. I don't think they won on the ice that night. I think they won during the countless hours of practice and drills.

I see a lot of people, including myself at times, unwilling to give everything they have. For the most part, it's not that they are lazy or unmotivated. It's that they are scared. They are scared of the possibility that they will invest themselves fully in a cause only to fail. If you don't give all of yourself to something and it doesn't work out than you have a built in excuse. You didn't really put yourself on the line so you don't take the loss as hard. You didn't fully pursue with your heart so you aren't left devastated. At least that is their line of thinking.

However, I think that misses the point completely. Was it Sun Tzu who said that a battle is won before it is ever fought? Life is not found in the outcome. Life is found in the pursuit. By not giving yourself fully - to God, your relationships, your work, your health - you have already failed. People tend to be very results oriented and place way too much emphasis on their definition of success and failure. Success is putting your heart, body and soul on the line. Don't be afraid if your desired result doesn't come to fruition. Be afraid of a life lived half-heartedly and with regret.

What if the US team had lost 30 years ago? Their heads may have hung in disappointment for a bit. But I guarantee that when they looked back on that game many years later they wouldn't have had one regret. They gave everything they had. They held nothing back. They found excellence in their pursuit. They gained the respect and admiration of each other and of a country. They believed in their team and in their quest.

They had already won.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Follow up to Last Post

But the usual remedies involve some sort of shaping up on our part, some sort of face-lift whereby we clean up our act and start behaving as we should. Jews try to keep the Law. Buddhists follow the Eightfold Path. Muslims live by the Five Pillars. Christians try church attendance and moral living. It never works. It never will. For heaven’s sake—we’ve given it several thousand years. You’d think we’d have gotten somewhere. Of course, the reason all those treatments ultimately fail is that we quite misdiagnosed the disease. The problem is not in our behavior; the problem is in us. As Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt. 15:19). We don’t need an upgrade. We need transformation. We need a miracle.

"Waking the Dead" - John Eldredge

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I know when God has something important for me to write because the spiritual battle heightens - my thoughts get fuzzy, my line of thinking less clear...even now I am struggling to get this down right.

This morning I am listening to Matt Chandler continue to preach from Colossians 1. Oh, is it good. So good. But he does talk fast and there is so much in there that I know I will need to listen to it again...and take notes this time. Toward the end he talks about the point where the Gospel veers away from religion.

Religion says, "Forgive your brother, feed the poor, be a better person and you and God can talk." The Gospel says, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." If your ultimate goal is to fix your marriage or stop your addiction or be a better person you are in big trouble. Because what will likely happen, and I can personally attest to this, is you will attempt to walk the straight and narrow, you will knuckle down, you will strive for behavior modification...until you reach a point of stress, anger, weakness, where you fall back into your former pattern all over again and repeat the endless cycle.

Only when Jesus is your ultimate goal do you have any hope of lasting change. When we make Jesus our main pursuit, our main purpose...when we walk deeply with Him, when we understand his character more greatly, when we follow him more intimately...than we begin to see things the way He does. We begin to have a changed perspective, as well as a changed heart, when it comes to our marriage, our time, our money, our desires. It's the "new appetite" language that Piper talked about. Truly walking with God brings about NEW desires. That's how change comes about. We can't will it. Not for long anyway. If Christ isn't our ultimate goal, the best we can hope to do is exchange our current chains for different ones.

I love this line from the sermon..."God is not in love with some future version of you." God says, "Come to me NOW." Do you feel how freeing that is? It goes back to my occasional belief that I am not "good enough" to come to God for forgiveness and reconciliation after I have sinned. God isn't waiting on me to get my act together so we can hang out and finally get tight with one another. God is not in love with some future version of me. He loves me right here, right now. He loves me with all my issues and baggage and shortcomings and failures.

Religion says that isn't how it works. The Gospel vehemently disagrees.