What do you say when you know you are about to say the last words you will say to a group of people. Sunday, I said the final things I would say (in the form of a sermon anyway) to Newburgh United Methodist Church…and I honestly believe that they are words the entire Church needs to hear. Fortunately…they are not really my last words. They are Jesus’.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience the power of the Holy Spirit like the disciples did on the day of Pentecost? If so…have you ever sought that? In Sunday’s message, I dig into how ordinary people like us can be filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is a question we ask all the time. If God is for us, why do I feel so defeated? We live in a world that really wants to condemn you and convict you for any number of things. Yet, in Christ, we discover freedom from all the condemnation that the world and Satan can throw at you. Discover the 4 pillars of our faith that gives you victory over the world’s condemnation.
We ask a lot of “IF” questions in our lives. Many of those questions are simple and, at the end of the day, hold little importance. However, there are some “IF” questions we ask that hold eternal significance in our lives. This week we ask, “If God is for us, why do we suffer?” It is probably a question you have asked yourself at some point in time…but today, we begin to see how Easter changes how we ask that question.
Every single day we come across forks in the road of our spiritual journey. And at every single fork in the road, we have a choice to make. Will we follow God’s will? Or, will we choose another path? No matter where you are in your relationship with Christ…even if you have yet to make a decision about Him at all…you need to know the importance of the forks in the road.
The Bible says a great deal about love and how we should love as Christians. But, what does it tell us about marriage? How do we love one another in marriage as the Bible instructs us to. Discover the direction that Paul provides that will help you to love in a more excellent way in your marriage.
No doubt you have heard many people talk about the legacy of a man named Peyton Manning. Some would argue that he is the greatest football player in history. Others would argue that he cracks the top 5. There are even those who would argue that he has only reached the top 10. And odds are, if you are a football fan, one of those categories I mentioned makes you scratch your head.
Last night, after a pedestrian effort (especially compared to his Hall of Fame worthy career), one of the announcers commented on Manning’s “masterful performance in today’s game and all season long”. In a season in which he was 9th in QBR and only had one TD pass at home during the regular season, this announcer called it masterful. After a Super Bowl that recorded this QB’s stat line as 13 for 23 with 141 yards, 0 TD’s, 1 fumble lost, and 1 interception…this announcer thought it was masterful.
Now…before you begin your ranting message to me about how I am trying to diminish Manning and his accomplishments…I am not. He is a sure-thing Hall of Famer who deserves to be considered one of the best to ever play. I don’t bring this up to tear down Manning. I bring this up to draw your attention to the narratives that we compose.
Peyton Manning’s career has been masterful. I will give you that. But this season was not masterful. Yet, for many, the narrative, regardless of the outcome or how he played, was not going to change. We all compose narratives of the teams and players we love as well as the teams and players we dislike (just mention Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in Indianapolis and you will quickly see a contrast of narratives on two of the greatest QB’s of our day). And the truth of the matter is this: None of those narratives are accurate. They are not accurate because they are always…and I mean always…composed with limited facts or knowledge.
No matter how big of a fan we may be, we never REALLY know the people we have opinions about. All we can do is simply compose our narratives based upon the information we have at hand.
But it is not just athletes that have narratives formed about them. It is all of us. You included. The people around you are composing narratives about you. Based on what they see and what they hear from you and those around you, they are composing narratives about who you are in their mind.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to control how those narratives are composed. At least not entirely. There are some people who will believe that you are one of the top 5 people that they know. If you have kids, hopefully they believe you are in the top 2. There are others, however, that will be confident that you don’t even crack the top 20. All of these decisions of opinion about you will be composed of incomplete information. It will be based upon how they experience you.
While you don’t get to determine the entire picture, you do get to determine some of those foundational aspects of how they view you. For instance, you get to determine how they view your integrity. Do you stand firm for what you believe in? Do you fight for those things you believe are the right things? Do you follow through on your promises? Do you treat others with the respect and dignity that you request they treat you with? Very simply, at the end of the day, are you a man/woman of integrity?
Today is the day you will get on Facebook or Twitter and see a world that celebrates and tears down men for playing a game and how they respond afterward. Those are simply narratives that are not completely accurate because they are based on limited information. On a less public scale…the same is happening to you. But, just like them, you have some say on how that narrative is written.
As you live your life…what are the most important things that you want people to write about you as they compose their narrative? Whether they are composing a negative or positive narrative…what do you hope is undeniable? Once you have determined that…how are you living your life so that the world sees that truth?
Arguing who the greatest QB of all time is a futile effort. There are simply too many perspectives to take. If you want to ask the question of who threw the most TD passes in history…we can handle that one because there are stats to back that up. There are facts to tell you that Peyton Manning is that man.
When the world writes the narrative of your life, the full story is hard to tell because everyone will have their own perspective. Yet, if you live your life with purpose, there will be some things that are undeniable. Some things about your life that all people, regardless of their perspective are able to see because your life told that story clearly.
You see…the world is creating its narrative of you. It is going to happen. The question is…how are you influencing that narrative?
**Many of you are probably wondering if I think Manning is the greatest. Well…I think (and this is my opinion)…if we are talking about this era, he is one of the top two. If we expand our search across the history of the NFL, I would say top 5. Then again…that is simply my narrative.
Every year at this time, in the midst of buying and wrapping gifts, traveling to visit family, preparing Christmas dinner, and all the other stressful moments of Christmas, we hear the story of Christ. And every time we hear the story, we hear the great truth that Jesus has come to us. While this is a great truth, it is only part of the truth. The story of a baby and what God does through the weird 2nd cousin…tells us a slightly different, yet transforming story.
Watch to see why God coming to us is only part of the story.
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The early Church had some things figured out. For starters, they knew why they existed. They had a deep understanding of the purpose and mission of the Church. Today’s Church could stand to revisit that soon.
They also knew what it meant to be rich in good living…in a way that allowed those around them to be rich in good living too. Check out my message from Sunday to discover how you can be rich in good living too. (Check out other messages here).