Find Your Audience

One of the most important things we can do as parents, men, and believers is to find our audience.  We’re told to go, make disciples of the world. We are touched on the heart with the mission to share our faith and be present.

You may be thinking, what can I do?

Check out this article posted today at Bleacher Report.

Carl Lentz is a former college basketball player who found his way into ministry.  He connected with Hillsong church and helped to open their first US location in New York City. He also made friendships with some of the top stars in the NBA.

Lentz has officiated funerals for the families of NBA players, married players to their spouses, and even baptized Kevin Durant in the pool at his home.

So what can we learn from this athlete turned preacher/advocate?

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Photo Credit: Fuzzy Images via Compfight cc

Appearance doesn’t matter. The article mentions Lentz’s tattoos and mohawk haircut, even quoting one NBA player as being impressed that Lentz was not another “old white guy” behind a pulpit.

You are equipped for your ministry.

I’ll say it again, you are equipped for your ministry.  Your appearance, whether buttoned up or casual, relates you to an audience.  Never count yourself out because of your looks.

Size doesn’t matter. Hillsong NYC has eight services on a Sunday. They are located near Madison Square Garden. For NBA players in the city, it is a perfect spot. Your church may not match Hillsong’s size, yet those walking through the doors are there for a reason. I believe God draws people close every week.

Be prepared to reach out, whether your church is eighty or 8,000 people. Your handshake and hug may be the one that makes a difference in the lives of a new visitor.

-Your connection is already there. Lentz was a former college basketball player at N.C. State.  That gave him an instant bond over basketball. What do you do for a living? Find a community related to your talents and profession. If you are a contractor, you’ll have a bridge of connection with other construction people in your area.  If you are a lawyer, check out the law offices.

Find your peers and serve with them.  Lentz takes players to local homeless shelters to distribute food. He had players working with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, some driving to construction sites directly after practice.

Lentz shares the language of basketball.  Your language, whatever it may be, can be valuable to lift up and encourage those friends and family around you and that is our true calling.

We must make a difference and the time to start is now. You are in the perfect place and time.

Think about that and take the first step.

~Matt

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Picks of the Week- 11/3/2014

ScriptureAnd do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13: 11-12

The night is nearly over, the day is almost here.  That’s one to tape up by the bathroom mirror and read every morning.

Family Activity: Give Thanks

November, more than other months, is the time to remember what we are thankful for.  In the hustle of life, we can forget about these things. Sit down with your kids and have talk about what they are thankful for, even write it down if they are old enough.  We spend our days looking forward and wondering about what we don’t have.  Too much time is wasted without the blessings in front of our face.

Marriage Activity: Set Goals

I feel guilty writing this as Val and I do not do it enough.  You can get caught up in daily life and forget about the future or, even worse, worry about it. Every journey needs a destination. Sit down, make a list, and keep it somewhere easily accessible. The end result is easier to chase when you can see it on paper.

Feel Good Story: David Shipman

While scrolling through Facebook one day, Shipman passed an interesting job posting.  He hesitated and scrolled back up.  After applying, he found himself in an interview with Ringling Brothers, eventually getting the job as a ringmaster. Now he gets to travel the world and make people happy.  Shipman loves his job and his journey should be an inspiration for anyone considering taking the chance to chase something they could love.  You can read Shipman’s profile article here.

Val’s Bag of the Week:

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Medium Utility Tote: Offered in new fall prints and exclusive prints, too, this tote is the perfect size for groceries, laundry products or hauling holiday gifts and goodies. It does double-duty in the pantry or linen closet for all your storage needs. Add a Medium Top-A-Tote lid to make it even more functional. If you spend $35.00, you get this for $7.00.  You can find this bag and other specials at Val’s personal site.

Worship Song:

 

 

Feel Good Friday 9/26/2014

On a previous Feel Good Friday post I mentioned the story of Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman whose 4-year-old daughter is currently fighting cancer.  She had surgery today at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. CHOP is one of the best, if not the best, hospital in the country for children and I’m sure she is in good hands.

The Bengals have sold Still’s jersey’s with all profits going to the battle against pediatric cancer. Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, purchased 100 jerseys on his own.  Still posted a picture on his Instagram today of flowers, a stuffed bear, and other gifts sent over by the Philadelphia Eagles and Chip Kelly.

Check out this article for Still’s pep talk delivered to his daughter on the ride to the hospital and make sure you have tissues close. As a father, it tugs at my heart and I can’t imagine what he must be feeling tonight.  We are certainly sending thoughts and prayers their way.

Greater Berks Food Bank

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The Greater Berks Food Bank distributed seven million pounds of food last year. They are in the midst of a transition to a new warehouse that will cost almost $3 million to fund. Their programs assist in over three hundred programs including a weekly presence in local schools handing out food to students and serving meals. In a city where these meals may be the only complete ones they get in a week, it is vitally important.

Requests normally come from pantries, programs, and individuals in Schuylkill and Berks Counties. They will then distribute the food they have and collect from outside organizations. The need is consistent and growing.  Last year, one in five residents in the two counties served accessed food provided from GBFB. Hunger is a real problem, not just in the city but also in the suburbs with a new class of “working poor.”

You can find their website here including facts, figures, and donation information.

Soundtrack Inspiration:

Hillsong, This I Believe.  Val’s new favorite!

Feel Good Friday 9/19/2014

The NFL has recently struggled with a string of high-profile domestic abuse cases.  You can find one of my posts about it here. The league has faced criticism about the handling of the cases and rightfully so. From Ray Rice to Greg Hardy and Jonathan Dwyer, these cases are now coming out of the woodwork and the league will need to quickly form an acceptable response.  Today, news came out that they have partnered with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This is a small step, but a positive one.  If the attention on domestic violence can save just one more victim, it will be worth it.  The league is also instituting education for every team surrounding domestic violence and sexual abuse. You can find an article about the partnership here.

Inspirational quote to start the weekend:

“No one rises to the occasion. You always sink to your level of training.” ~Chip Kelly, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles

I’m a huge fan of Kelly’s and this quote stuck with me.  As a believer, father, husband, writer, and entrepreneur, it is a valuable thought. You must build your base because, as the challenges come in waves, you will always react from your foundation. Are you building on rock? Sand? Does your foundation need to be torn down and rebuilt?

 

Berks Women in Crisis

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Berks Women in Crisis (WIC) operates more than one location in the city of Reading.  They offer services that include counseling, housing, and legal assistance.  They work with women, and occasionally men, in crisis situations of abuse. WIC will go to any place of employment, school, or organization wanting to have an educational presentation on abuse and assist with training individuals in identifying abuse. One of their largest challenges is getting the word out.

They have no budget for marketing and must rely on word of mouth and community events throughout the year. When the national spotlight is on domestic abuse, it is valuable to know that there is always help.  You can find more information on their website about current programs, support, and giving opportunities.

Soundtrack Inspiration: Hillsong’s Amazing Grace, Broken Vessels

 

A Post for My Son’s Bully

Carter is doing kindergarten this year for a second time.  He’s a mid-August birthday and we started him too young last year for his first shot at elementary school.  He’s asked us, more than once, why he isn’t in first grade with his friends.  This morning he was really upset when Val dropped him off at school.  I called and talked to his guidance counselor.  She talked to him and he seemed to feel better.

Then we had baseball practice.

A kid he was in class with last year is on the team and this kid does not let up with the questions as to why Carter isn’t in first grade.  Today it escalated to insults. “Carter can’t hit. Carter can’t throw.  Carter’s a failure (yes, he actually said it.) He’s a big crybaby, etc.”

I was pitching when this was going on and I can’t tell you what it was like throwing to Carter while he was standing there trying his hardest not to cry. As a dad, saying it breaks your heart is an understatement and this is why:

I was picked on in school and, to this day, I can remember every moment of it.

Carter and I stopped and got dinner after practice.  I asked Carter if he likes this kid and he said yes, they are friends, but he doesn’t like when he is mean.

He has his mother’s heart and a soul that cares about the world, even one who hurts him.

So, for this kid, this bully, I have a message.

You will not win.

You will be overcome by the gracious heart of a child willing to look past your antics and be your friend.

You will plant a seed in Carter that grows his heart even wider and deeper, allowing him to love others and stand up when he sees someone being bullied because of empathy, because he was there once when you put him there.

You will be a catalyst that makes my son a better man, father, and husband.

You will not break his soul, deaden his passion, or make him feel like lesser of a person.

You will be a teaching point, a moment in his past that he can learn from and use to build himself into a stronger person.

The hardest thing, as a parent, is to find a balance.  My gut is to grab control and stamp it out immediately. I also know I can’t always be with him, that he’s on his own at school five days a week and will need to navigate his social situation.  This is new territory.

Before bed, I knelt before him and promised him that I would always be there. I told him I would look out for him and that he was the more important than he would ever know.  He hugged me and said, “I love you daddy” and that is all the fuel I need to wake up in the morning and do it all again tomorrow.

~Matt

Soundtrack inspiration: