I just finished watching the ESPN Documentary "The Last Dance" about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls on their run to championship #6 and Michael Jordan's last season with the Bulls. I grew up a HUGE basketball fan (go Hoosiers) and was obsessed with MJ since his days at North Carolina. I used to stick my tongue out when I went in for a layup and I practiced his fade away jump shot for hours in my driveway. I had his posters on my wall and watched every game.
But now, many years later, I was a little sad to see this up close version of Michael's story. In the documentary he doesn't come across so well. He is mean, condescending and more than a bit arrogant. He is kind of a bully to be honest. By the end of the 10 part series I thought two things
1. He is the greatest player ever (way better than LeBron)
2. I do not want to be his teammate
But there was one section in one of the final episodes that I did think, "well, that's commendable" and in it he tells us that he never asked his teammates to do anything that he didn't do himself. He pushed them hard, but he also pushed himself just as hard or harder. He ran all the laps, did all the weight lifting and worked to set an example of excellence for others.
I do not consider myself an expert on leadership and most of what I do well as a leader I just steal from Jesus (the perfect leader). Jesus always led by example. He didn't just tell us to care for the needy, he did it. He didn't just tell us to love our enemies, he prayed for the men who crucified him on the cross. He didn't just tell us that kids are important, he welcomed them to himself. Jesus always walked the talk.
Leadership these days isn't easy. Many people right now disagree with each other and trying to keep the peace in a diverse group is gonna be tough (likely some of you will disagree with a few things I say or do over the next few months as we try to get back from this pandemic) and so I want to make a few promises.
1. I will do all I can to care about you, love you, listen to you and pray for you.
2. I will do my best to lead us well and wisely
3. I will probably make mistakes
4. I will lead by example.
As I have from the first day I was at Six Points, I will not just ask you to give to the ministry here, but I will contribute financially to the cause. I will not just say that servant leadership matters, I will model it by taking the worst parking spot and eating last at every meal. I will try to tell you how I think we should love each other, and then model it by showing grace to each other when we disagree.
We have interesting days ahead, and there are likely going to be some bumps in the road and so I will be praying the prayer that Jesus taught us in John 17 for unity in the church. Would you join me as we pray together that God will draw us closer during this season and not tear us apart?
that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
This week we had our first (ever we think) Drive-In Church service in the parking lot. The concept is simple (stay in your cars), and the technology is old (Drive-In's were super popular 60 years ago) but most churches had never tried one before and so it was new and a bit scary to see if it would actually work.
Our biggest fear was that the sound would be poor. Since it was raining on Sunday, people couldn't open their windows so we really needed the radio signal to work well. We had tested and tested the equipment, but never with this many cars. We were worried that after all this work and promotion, we would end up with static. Static means that your message is lost. Static means that you can't quite connect. Static means you are a bit fuzzy or unclear. Static is bad.
Sometimes, I feel like there is static in-between me and God. I want to hear Him, but the message is fuzzy. I hope He hears me when I pray, but I often don't get a response and the conversation feels lost. Prayer is hard and we worry that we aren't communicating well or clearly.
The Biblical truth is that God does hear and see us at all times; but only chooses to answer some prayers, which is hard for us to understand. God loves us, but only does what is good for us (according to His understanding of good, not ours).
In 1 John 5, for example, it says "if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." This is just one example of many scriptures where it makes it plain that God responds not to every whim request we might make (asking for a ferrari for example) but to our prayers that are in line with His will.
So don't think that God doesn't hear you, He does, but He might not give the answer you desire. He might say no because what you have prayed for isn't in line with what's good for you or others. He might say "not yet" which means we have to wait until our prayer is in line with His timetable. He might say yes and give you the answer you desire...but this will be because you are asking in line with His will for you.
Oh, and the static...just spend some time with God, it will clear. Jesus said that he is the good shepherd and the sheep hear his voice. Listen, wait and you will hear clearly soon.
We took a drive down to southern Indiana the other day and were just about to Martinsville when Isaac (age 4) shouted out "look, mountains" as he pointed up ahead. Nicole and I laughed because we know that those are just hills, but to a kid born and raised in the flatlands of central Indiana; those look like mountains.
Life is often about perspective, right? To a kid from Indy, hills are mountains; but to someone born in Colorado they barely count as hills. To Elon Musk, a hundred bucks is nothing, like pocket change...but to you and me it might be a lot of money.
It's easy in these strange days to lose perspective. Days seem like weeks, weeks seem like months...and every day seems like a Monday. Most of us are out of our routines and, therefore, feel a bit off. We might be more grumpy, or more stressed...but few of us feel normal.
So here is a truth you can hang your hat on. God is still good and He still loves you. Perspective doesn't change this truth. Your mood doesn't change God's faithfulness. Each day is the day that the Lord has made and we should try to make the most of it.
Maybe a drive to see some hills is just what we all need (or a lake, or a sunset...) to get our perspective back...and maybe you'll see a mountain if you look through the eyes of a 4 year old.
Pastor Scott McDermid
I have a Pin Oak in my front yard. It's a cute little tree, apparently planted by a kid who used to live here for an Earth Day celebration many years ago. I like its location and the shade it provides to the front yard...but there is one thing I dislike about it...its stubborn leaves. Pin Oaks keep their leaves all winter and only lose them once the new buds push them off. This means that all winter long I look at a bunch of brown dead looking leaves on my tree and that every Spring I have to pull out the rake (a tool I would normally be done with around November) and rake up all these stubborn leaves. I am normally the guy out raking while all my neighbors are out putting down mulch.
But I respect these leaves. They don't give up. They hang on through all those cold winter winds. They hang on through all that snow and ice. They hang on when all the other leaves on all the other trees have been bagged up and thrown away. These little Pin Oak leaves just don't quit.
Jesus taught about a woman who had been taken advantage of. She did not get justice, not at first, but she demanded it and she DID NOT QUIT! Every day she fought for justice. Every day she demanded help. Every day she called out until she was granted what she deserved. (Luke 18:1-8).
Let us be like this Persistent Widow. Let us be like this Pin Oak leaf. We will not give up. We will not give up on hope. We will not give up on love. We will not give up on kindness. We will not give up on God and His plan for us. Though some may falter, we will persist. We will hang on through every storm. We will hang on through every hardship (including this one). We will hang on to the promises of God and to His great love! We will hang on.