Great Words from Tic Long

I was invited to visit my friend Tic Long's blog a few days ago ... I took the offer and was blown away. Read below and see for yourself.

We Get To Choose
Tic Long
It seems like a lot of life comes to us or even at us, often leaving us with the feeling that we have no choice in the matter. Sometimes it’s little things like our kid gets on a lousy little league team, the restaurant runs out of the special of the day that sounded so good to us, some car wreck in front of us brings traffic to a crawl or a storm comes in and rains out our plans for a big day outdoors. We didn’t do anything to cause these things, they just happened to us. Other times however it’s big things, difficult things, painful things, things that can alter the course of our life. A loved one gets cancer, our pastor gets caught in an affair and our church is a mess, our child has a learning disability that makes school way too difficult and painful, or in my case your job comes to an end. It wasn’t my choice to leave YS, the choice was made for me. I wasn’t the only one involved in the “downsizing” but I had no say in the decision and in a sense it was done “to me”. Of course nothing is really that clear cut in real life. Very seldom are things completely one way or another. Seldom are any of us completely innocent or without any responsibility in a situation but we can still be left with a feeling or a sense that something was done to us and we had no choice. But of course that is not true. We always have a choice. WE ALWAYS GET TO CHOOSE! This was not how I envisioned leaving YS, this was not the time I would have chosen to leave YS but I do have a choice in HOW I leave YS. I get to choose my response. We all get to choose how we respond to something that comes our way. We get to choose our response and in the end that may be the most important choice of all.

In the difficult “big things” that come our way there are many questions that flood our minds and emotions. You know the “why”, “how”, “what”, “who” and “where” type of questions. Some questions come at you like waves on the beach one after the other while others you hunt down, sometimes in hot pursuit of them. For me I have found chasing the “why” question to be the least productive and in fact actually a waste of time. Do we ever get an answer to that question that is truly satisfying? I don’t think so and at least for me it often ends up an exercise in self -justification, self-pity or blame placing. Not a very healthy place to take up residence and not a place where I find God hanging out much. For me there are other questions that are much more powerful, much more life giving and more God finding. The “what”, “how”, “who” and “where” questions area much better place to live in. Chasing down answers to these questions are allowing me to leave the way I want to leave. I want to leave with integrity, grace and gratitude so these are the questions I am choosing to ask myself these days to help me stay that course:

What is God trying to teach me in this?

What do I need to lean about my myself?

What is going to be revealed in me?

What if all that God has taught me to this point has been preparing me for what is next?

How can I respond to this situation with integrity, grace and faithfulness?

How can I find God in this? Can I embrace that God is in the midst of this? Can I remember that it was God who brought me to YS so can’t it be that God is leading me away from YS?

How can I be anything but grateful for the wild and exiting ride it has been at YS?

How can I be anything but thankful that God has allowed me to minister to youth workers for 32 years?

Who am I going to become in this process?

Who is God bringing into my life right now and for what purpose?

Who can speak truth into my life that I need to listen to?

Where am I placing my trust?

Where am I finding my identity?

Where am I going to serve next and can I embrace this as an adventure with God?

These are the questions that bring me life, hope and faith these days. My guess is that in a difficult situation you might be facing it is questions like these that will bring light to dark places. Remember we get to choose our response. It is never helpful to play the victim, to think we have no choice in a situation. That posture gets us nowhere and in my case is an act of faithlessness. It is saying that what I am going through is outside Gods control. It’s denying, as crazy as it may seem, that God may just be in this after all. This does not mean denying the real pain of a situation or acting like it is all no big deal or playing some “happy Christian” game. It’s just the opposite, choosing these responses and ones like them allow us to embrace our pain and grow through it. My leaving YS is incredibly painful for me and I have been on an emotional roller coaster and imagine I will for a while. I don’t try to deny that. But, and it’s a big But, it’s not the end of the story. I get to choose how to respond to what God has put in front of me and to embrace the adventure. To me it’s all about the journey and we get to choose how to embrace that journey and that is a pretty awesome thing.

See what else is on Tic's mind here ... http://ticlong.wordpress.com/


Good News from Apollo 8

45 Lessons from a 90 Year Old

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland,Ohio.
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.
It is the most-requested column I've ever written."

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12 It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey
is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God
never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is
up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for
an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.
Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years,
will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of
anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40 If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone
else's,we'd grab ours' back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.


A Few Thoughts from Someone I Deeply Respect

Ran across some notes I took last year at Catalyst ... thought I would pass them along

We fall in love with the way we do ministry

We keep doing it because we are comfortable and in love with it … not because the idea is effective.

No pain … No change

The great leader changes what the next person would change.

Where are we manufacturing energy?????? Where are things going on that we are not all that excited about them???? Where are we pretending.

Its not that easy anywhere …. Being a leader is not easy.

Acknowledge what’s not working and admit why you are not willing to do anything about it. Why am I unwilling to deal with this.

If you don’t make the changes the next person is going to anyway.
Ran across these notes from a talk I heard Andy Stanley do last year at Catalyst ... thought I would pass them along.

When your memories exceed your dreams your end is near.

I want to be an expert on how to do ministry in the future. Am I willing to be more vision oriented than celebration oriented?

Create a church that un-churched people love to attend

Don’t let success overshadow your visions

Success breeds complacency and complacency breeds failure

We are uniquely built to do something society can get nowhere else.

The problem with our nation is heart …. We have heart issues

Leaders need to lead with extradinary creativity and courage.


Changed Forever

In the movie Seven Pounds, Ben Thomas says, "I'm helping"when asked what he is doing ... his entire point is that he wants to change people's lives forever.

What a thought!!! What if we lived that way??? Are we supposed to live that way? I mean is the call of Christ on our lives a call to live in such a way that the people we meet are changed forever?

Because of Christ in our lives, the people we meet do have a chance to be changed forever. Think about it ... changed forever! I met a lady in downtown Ft. Worth yesterday. I shared with her what happens when someone who is a Christian dies ... I told her that when a Christian dies they are given eternal life with God in heaven. In a brief conversation, I helped this college age young lady get a taste of what God wants her to know and believe. All I did was a have a short conversation ... I was trying to point her to Jesus.

When I read the book of John ... when I learn more about John the Baptist ... I see a man who believed that Jesus would change people forever. John the Baptist really believed people needed to know Jesus. He believed and wanted others to believe as well.

Go check John 1 out sometime. Lets see a generation help people know Jesus and be changed forever.


Losing Your Voice

When I was in Middle School it was fun to lose my voice. In fact, we would yell as loud as we could until our regular voices turned into something else. We thought it was cool to have a raspy, quiet, almost whisper kind of voice.

The difference between someone who follows God and someone who doesn't, is a commitment to the Word and to personal time listening to the King. The person who follows God is committed to both and the person who doesn't follow God is committed to neither. We should all be more committed to God's Word and personal time with Jesus.

These are difficult times. Lots of people are walking away from church. The institutional church in America is losing its voice.
The reason we are losing our voice is because it is — "our voice". It needs to be His voice. The way we stop using our voices and tiny little dreams and start using His is by spending lots of time with Him and His word.

Here's a good verse to start with ...
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

When we lost our voice in middle school, people listened to us in a different way. Our raspy new voices commanded attention. I think the same things happens when we lose our voices and start speaking with words from God.

Whose voice is coming out of your mouth ... yours — His


Follow Me

In these days filled with twitter hype and competition to see who can attract the most followers, the words of Jesus ring loud and true. He calls us to follow Him.

I was reading in Mark 1 this morning. The Gospel opens with the writer telling us about the mission and message of John the Baptist ... John the Baptist was sent ahead in order to tell people about Jesus. He was preparing the way!!! (I pray my message is the same as the message of JTB.)

Verses 9-13 tell us that Jesus was baptized and then went into the wilderness where He was tempted. After the temptation (vs14), we see Jesus going about proclaiming the Good News of God ... we want to be like Jesus right??? When was the last time we went through the city proclaiming the good news of God?

Verses 16-20 really got my attention. The picture we get of Jesus is that Jesus went about His life proclaiming the Good News of God and asking people to come follow Him.

Look at these words. Read them and ask God to tell you what you are supposed to take away ... Mark 16-20 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

I can see it now ... Jesus, the messiah, the uncreated One, God Himself, walking by the lake, meeting people, telling people He crossed paths with that there is Good News ... and He even took it a step further ... He told them about the Good News and He asked them to drop their way of life and follow Him. That last part blows me away ... drop your way of life and follow ... Think about the ramifications ... drop your income, your rep, your family approval, your way of life and follow a man walking the streets of your city proclaiming the Good New of God ...

From this side of things following Jesus makes perfect sense. I mean I know Jesus is the Son of God. I have the Holy Bible sitting right next to my computer. I have years of life spent around people who believe. From this side of things, it seems like the only way for the disciples to respond was to say yes. Ask me, I say they would have been fools not to take Him up on His offer.

Anyway ... the call of Jesus went out ... Follow Me ... and they followed (go look at verse 18 again).

Its been fun studying this passage today. I love the message God sent me through these few short verses. The challenge He gives me is clear ... I am to point people to Jesus ... I am to live my day telling people the Good News of God ... I should do my part and ask people to follow Jesus ...

Its 11:42am ... I've tried several times to point people to Jesus ... a couple of really good conversations ...Can't wait to see what's next.

before I finish ... I wonder if Jesus would have used Twitter ... I think He would have. I also think Jesus would have used a Mac! haha

Have a great day!!!! Point people to Jesus.