United, Our Message Can Bring Change!

The President’s speech last night inspired me with the thought of unity.

No matter what your political allegiance is, we are really all Americans and we have one enemy, the terrorists. President Trump made it very clear when he talked about what the strategy was for Afghanistan, “We aren’t nation building again, we are about killing terrorist” He too told the military, the American people, and the world,

“The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose.

They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all service members are brothers and sisters. They are all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag and live according to the same law.

They are bound together by common purpose, mutual trust and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other. The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon on a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt.

And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.”

For me that has been the message that I have been challenging the Church to embrace. The reason is simply because we have a generation that needs us to be unite and not divided. So this why 27 years ago I founded the organization allies, so we could impact our world with a message of Hope. The question was, “Could we as the Church, collectively rally around the need of reaching and mentor the next generation?”

For those of you who know me personally, have read things I have written, or have followed me through my career and journey. You understand that this message is not one that I have just decided to try and would sell now that it is popular. No, it has been part of my DNA since I began in ministry over four decades ago. For the past 27 years since the beginning of Allies, every time I was in the room with ministry leaders they knew my passion and mission for the Church link arms to reach the next generation.

For many years I had a daily 2-minute show on KTIS 98.5 FM radio. I often made this statement, “The Church is not a building that you go on Sunday. But the Church is people like you and I. Followers of Christ, who desire to impact our world with the simple, yet life changing message of Hope.” The Church is people like us, men and women of God who are followers of Christ. People who have made Jesus the leader of their lives.

My friends, whatever your position you hold or stage of your walk with Christ you are at, we the Church, we have been commissioned by the one that can unite us. Yes, there certainly lots of things that can and have divided us. But it is time for the Church to raise up and impact the world. We, the Church have a message that makes a difference in a person’s life, family, relationships, attitudes, and career. It is a message of Hope through knowing God in a real and personal way.

Many years ago, a cartoon in the Star Tribune really challenged my thinking. The cartoonist portrayed a seemingly simple message with a person sitting in a car at a fast food drive through window. As they looked at the menu the items where Hn sitting in a car at a fast food looking at the menu read Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and New Age. It was a couple of years after I started Allies and too was a time when the first Gulf War had broke out and America was calling on its allies to come together to fight against the bad man in Bagdad. When I looked at that cartoon it became real to me.

You see the secular world doesn’t see the Church the way we sometimes see the Church. We often see many churches and denominations. We have labels inside of Christianity. Those labels are Catholics, mainline protestants, evangelical, pentecostal, and Charismatic and we too see that we are different in our theologies, backgrounds, ethnic, race, worship, dogmas, and doctrines. But as this cartoon depicted when others look at us they categorize us all as Christians. They too don’t distinquish a person who life has been transformed and is a Christ follower. The world just categorizes all of us as Christians. They honestly don’t know much more than that and they believe that all Christians believe and do the same things.

Yesterday was an interesting and intriguing day for people all across America, especially in the path of the total eclipse. Many Americans experienced something that has not happened for 99 years, the Total Eclipse. For a few minutes or seconds depending on where you where the sun was blocked by the moon. There were many people interview about the experience, but one guy interviewed in Greenville, SC and said, “It was amazing that it took an eclipse to unite the nation, at least for a few minutes.”

Church, we have a message that changes lives, families, and homes.  We the Church, come together around the one thing that unites us. There are many things that have and cause division in our churches. But there is one thing that can unite us in the mission. It is simply that Jesus Christ can transform any life and give all people Hope. It all starts when you in your world, share your story (and your story really matters). When we the Church, collectively, share our story of love, grace, hope, peace, and transformation we can impact the world. Let’s bring this simple, yet life-changing message of Hope and love to the world.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. That my friends is the message of the Church united in mission.
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Life Isn’t a Straight Line

It would be great if when you started out life it was all going to be easy. Or it would be easy to be the man or woman with a vision to do something, develop your strategic plan, and then just let the business plan work out. But just like anyone with a vision, there are different stages that will challenge your perseverance to what you saw as the reality or the desired outcome. Honestly, it might take a lot longer than your proposed business plan.
The reality is life is never a straight line. 
There might be seasons where you encounter potholes in the road that can throw you out of alignment. Yet that are which will cause you to slow down. But nevertheless for most of us the it is not a smooth road.  bumps in the road of life and less severe than at other seasons of life, but nevertheless the road is not smooth. During these seasons when it feels like your hitting those thumps, bumps, and jolts, they require you to drive differently than when the road has been resurfaced and diving on the payment if smooth sailing.
One of the absolute worst things on a road trip  is when you hit a “Work Zone”. That simply means that you will need to slow because there maybe road workers head repairing the road ahead of you. But as proceed it is when you see that “Detour” sign you know it will take you longer to arrive to where you are headed. You may not know how far it is before you are able to get back on your straighter route to your destination. But you do know it is going to throw you off your time frame of getting to your destination and arrival will be delayed.
I had the privilege of sitting with a man who had worked tirelessly in India for many years. He was the founder of Calcutta Mission of Mercy which served the poor and desolate of Calcutta India for 35 years. During those years established schools and colleges, clinics, a hospital, vocational training programs, churches, and an extensive food distribution network, all of which are still in operation today.
The dinner was small with just a couple other couples, Rachel and I, and Mark Buntain. For about 3 hours at dinner I sat right next to him. We engaged in conversation throughout the evening. I knew that his health was not well. So between his health and other challenges there had been many detours in his journey. But at some point in the evening asked a question something like, “How are your doing and have your handled all the travel, challenges with India government and your health?” I will never forget his answer to me, when he said these words, “Dan, I just deep pressing on!”
Friends, sometimes when life isn’t going the right direction for you, you need to just keep “Pressing On”. Yes you might encounter a potholes, bumps, or detours but if you stay the course and “Press On” you will arrive at your desired destination.
It was Winston Churchill who said, “Never, Never, Never, Give up on something that you cannot go a day without thinking about.” He to said, “If your going through hell, don’t give up.” Then there is one last quote to think about through life’s twists and turns, ups and downs, or success or failures. Let this one really sink in because it can really shape your life, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” Because you are going to fail, if you going to succeed!
How have the twist and turns, ins and outs, ups and downs and successes and failure shaped your life?