Know How to Lose

Last night the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers.  In the midst of the hype and headlines, a large amount of analysis has focused on Cam Newton’s post game press conference. Newton, the quarterback of the Panthers, seemed distant and moody  Eventually, he walked away from the crowd.

In sports, from an early age, players are taught to lose with dignity. There is a way to face a loss.  Some never get over it.  Others admit defeat, put it behind them, and move on to play another day. Newton had lost the biggest game of his career and, as a young man, may not have reacted the right way.  Next year, he’ll have a chance to show he can recover and maybe get back again.

I’m reading Louis Giglio’s book, The Comeback. In a chapter about grace he analyzes Peter’s breakfast on the beach with Jesus.  This was after the multiple denials, running back to the water and the only life he had known.  This was the disciple who would be the foundation of the church, beaten down after the loss of his mentor and savior.

A swim from the fishing boat, stumbling out of the water and landing at the feet of the risen Jesus.

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Our lives are as much about handling victory as transitioning through defeat. We are never too far away or too far gone.  Peter, though promising Jesus he would never deny him, turned away when the pressure was on.  He had to have the image of the cross in his mind.  Death was too close for comfort.

Yet this morning, on the beach, Jesus waited with breakfast. He told the guys where to catch fish after they had tried all night and found nothing. Experienced fishermen at the end of their effort and all they had to do was listen to Jesus.

They could have ignored him, called it a morning, and went on with their day.  That wasn’t the end of the story. The nets were destined to be full, bursting with life as soon as they chose to listen. All Jesus did was point and show them the way.

The good news is, grace is new each morning. Jesus waits on that beach as we sail on our own chasing the wind. He waits as we pull up the empty nets of our own efforts.  He waits as we are refined down to dependence on him as not the last resort but the only resort.

Knowing how to lose creates our comeback. It sends us on a new journey to dreams we could only imagine, the embrace of returning home and blazing fire of fresh inspiration that can truly change the world.

~Matt

Failure is Not an Option

I just started reading a book this weekend by Lewis Howes called The School of Greatness.  Howes is an athlete and entrepreneur.  He has an inspiring story and great podcast that I highly recommend.  In the chapter I read last night, he posed this challenge:

Imagine what your life would look like if you knew you could never fail.

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Fear can be crippling, whether we fear success or failure. We can be scared to break out of the box of our own expectations and those of our family. We grow up listening to the narratives that swirl around us.  It takes drive and effort to break the trend and stand out, to tell the ghosts of the pasts that they don’t have any power in the present or the future.

This weekend, as you hand out candy and dress up in costumes, take a moment and picture your life without failure.  What would you do, how would you change, what would you create? What impact would you make in this world that longs for someone to come and change things?

What legacy would you leave?

Make plans and, when Monday comes, take the first step towards a new future.  I know I will.

~Matt

Surviving a Crisis of: Identity

Fill in the blank:

I AM A ________

Think about it. Not so easy a question for most people. We tend to identify ourselves by our jobs, position in life, gender, location, or any number of factors. Our identity is shaped from our youngest years. Carter and Aiden will use these days as foundation for their journeys into manhood. What happens when your answer is changed by something out of your control?

I always wanted to write.  I mean, I had phases like everyone else (I was a huge X-Files fan and wanted a career in the FBI to investigate the supernatural). My mother always had a book in her hand and shelves of them ready for access. I took to words and felt a void when I wasn’t in the midst of reading a great story.

I spent years as an undergraduate and grad student studying writing. I’ve published short stories, novellas, and a novel. Yet, there are days I hesitate to call myself a writer.  It took research, discussions with friends over coffee, and obtaining my MFA from Fairfield University to give myself some permission to take on the role.

In this process, God kept tapping me on the shoulder.

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I believe our gifts are given to serve and be given back in offering. I wondered if, rather than chasing the next best-seller, the words could be used to inspire and make a difference. 

In the moments of silence, the voices will creep up and whisper in your ear. Really? You? Why do you think you’ll be successful?

What if you fail?

Failure can shatter your identity, but there are ways to fight it.

If these questions hit a nerve, if they create more questions and you find yourself stuck in the midst of insecurity, always remember:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17– Be assured of your salvation. Know where you stand and know your answer to the most important question. Know that time will pass and, one day, you will face your maker. When I’m struggling, when the waves seem too high, I rediscover my anchor and hold on tight. His words and salvation calm the storm. When you are drifting, find the bottom line and build from there.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28– Everything you do is important. Every small interaction counts. Every day makes a difference. You are called to a purpose and, if you are unsure of what it is, pray.  God will reveal it to you and, I believe, you’ll find it closer to your heart than you ever imagined.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

We had a chance to worship one Sunday morning with Jarred Anderson and sing this song live. It is powerful!