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?

Never Give Up On Your Dream

It was Monday morning and I had just come out of a very important meeting at Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. This meeting had been called because of some big changes in the plans for a citywide youth event scheduled for May 2017 at the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

You see, just a few days earlier the senior pastor lead team for the event had met and it was decided the best course of action would be to postpone the event till May of 2018. This would give time to extend this season of unity, prayer, and outreach we were experiencing in the Church of the Twin Cities.

It was just in September, at U.S. Bank Stadium, where over 400 pastors had gathered. As we all look out from the from the Hyundai Club, overlooking the new field, we heard Nick Hall, from Pulse share a “big” vision to fill the stadium in May 2017. Now it is February 16, 2017, and the momentum has been building in the city. On this day over 830 ministry leaders, representing over 350 churches were meeting at Cedar Valley to hear more about the “big” vision. All 66,200 seats with young people to hear simple, yet life-changing the message of the gospel.

But with the unexpected changes in plans for the biggest youth outreach we had seen in years in the Twin Cities, the youth pastor lead team met. In the meeting, I shared the verse from Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart at man plans his course, but it is the Lord that determines his steps.” Yes, we have been planning and taking action on what we felt we should do, yet all along, have had a sensitive ear and listening to God as He has direct each step. So, at this time God was leading us to set aside our timeline for his timeline.

But what can we do with this kind of momentum?

Not only with our strategic efforts with youth workers of the region, but too, continue to capitalize on the incredible support the senior pastors are giving us, in this season, to reach this youth for Christ.

Here is a reality! 

Those of us in ministry to youth in this region have been blessed over the years by the unity we have experienced. We have come together around a common vision, strategy, and actions that goes beyond just the excitement of big events. This vision has propelled us to work together as allies building a foundation of collaboration in our communities and across the entire region in our efforts to reach youth for Christ.

Historically the big events like: 1992 Super Bowl Outreach; 1994 NBA All-Star Outreach; 1996 with the Greater Twin Cities Billy Graham Crusade; a few See You at the Domes and Go M.A.D.’s in the late 1990’s; the 2004 Luis Palau Festival; and Rock the River in 2009 have all fueled seasons of greater unity of the Church of the Twin Cities.

Now many of the youth leaders from those seasons of the big events are senior pastors in Twin Cites churches. Too, many of the current youth workers who have never experienced this kind of unity of the Church in the Twin Cities. Honestly, in my 27 years of these kinds strategic events and initiative, I have never seen this kind of support of the senior leadership.

The Church of the Twin Cities has entered a new season

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly, immeasurably more that we can ask, think, dream, plan, or even imagine. According to the power of God that is at work in us.”

This new season of unity of the Church gives us, ministry leaders, an incredible opportunity in leading this next generation. So, let’s dream big dreams. Let’s accomplish great things. Let’s climb many mountains with God. For with God, we can do anything who gives strength to us. So, let’s dream big dreams for God.

What are we in youth ministry going to do with this momentum and opportunity?

How can we help youth workers from over 350 churches and communities across the region, develop relationships, strategy, and create action plans to keep building on this momentum in their local church and community?

15 months is a longtime in the youth ministry world. When the average stay of a youth worker is only 18 months, typically during this season there could potentially be major leadership changes in the youth ministry landscape in our communities and this metropolitan region.

But could it all of this be a win/win? Both, for the church where a youth worker serves and the Church of the Twin Cities. A win for churches and for senior pastors where the youth worker stays in their leadership positions longer, simply because they are connected other youth workers and something bigger than just their youth ministry.

It is a proven fact and I have personally experienced it to be true over the years. A youth worker who is connected to other youth workers in a network in their city, will stay longer at their church.

The discussion around the table, at our youth worker meeting, quickly began to move to building relationships and having strong networks of youth workers in cities. Networks where the leaders can build relationships in their cities. Where they, collectively, could challenge their students to unite with other Christ followers at their school. We all realized this could be critical to continue to build the momentum for the U.S. Bank event in May 2018 and way beyond.

We also looked at events on the calendar where we could focus to continue to build the momentum.

Youth workers in community networks challenging, training, and mobilizing students in their ministries to lead and participate in these opportunities.

Just think what could be over the next 15 months with the 350+ churches? So, what if…

  • Every youth worker was connected to other youth workers in their community.
  • Every student from every church were to unite as the (Church on the Campus) to impact every school for Christ?
  • Every school staffer from every church was engage in this mission impact their school for Christ?
  • Concerned adults (parents, grandparents, church small groups, etc.) in every church prayed for every student in the youth ministry by name every day.

ywsbs

Carpe Diem. Let’s seize the moment!

With all the support and the momentum, let’s lead the charge with a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), an Ephesians 3:20 vision, a Kingdom vision for ministry to youth in the Twin Cities and beyond.

  • A vision big enough to capture our city
  • A vision simple enough to grasp
  • A vision de-centralized enough it can be owned
  • A vision relational enough it can actually work

So, it was a “Big Meeting” and a “Historic Day” for Church of Twin Cities!

Nick Hall made the announcement of the change of plans. He challenged us all that it isn’t a delay, but an extension of a season. He defined delay, as cause to be later or slower than expected or desire. But instead of a delay in our plans. This time is an extension, a lengthening, stretching out, or enlarging the scope of something. It has never been about one night at one venue, but a movement of the Church. At this time, we all are being invited, as the Church of the Twin Cities, to prepare, enlarge our scope, and increase our impact during this extended season.

This historic day is just the beginning of a new season for the Church of the Twin Cities. We are all, followers of Christ, invite into this season to see God change our city and the world.

Jesus prayed in John 17, for His Church would be one, just as He and the father are one. Why? So, the world will know the simple yet powerful message. We believe we are going to see the Twin Cities changed and the world will see the His Church united.

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Dan, why is this so important to you? 

As I came out of that all-important youth pastor meeting, I ran into and introduced myself to the Lead Pastor at Cedar Valley Church, Neal Rich. We talked for a few minutes about his journey to Cedar Valley. Then I shared with him my story. I told him, his Church was part of my journey. You see, his predecessor had played a big role in my life and the history the ministry I founded Allies Ministires.

I told him I had a conversation with their Senior Pastor 27 years ago, Jerry Strandquist. I was just starting Allies Ministries and was needing an office. So, I asked Jerry if I could get some space for my office at Bloomington Assembly of God (now Cedar Valley Church). He graciously found a room on their campus for first office of Allies Ministries.  Not only did I have the office space, but could use of the choir room as my prayer room.

At that time in 1990, the Church looked very different and not many churches worked together. There were many things that seemed to divided us; our denominational walls, our theology and dogmas, ethnic backgrounds, and our egos. We were not a united Church, matter of fact, we were a divided church in our own little silos.

But as a youth pastor, in churches I served in Ohio, Colorado, and Texas, God had put in my heart a desire to work with other youth workers. Leaders who were outside of my circle and denomination, with a goal to reach youth for Christ in our city. So that is exactly what I did!

When I left my church position in Colorado Springs, Colorado and moved to the Twin Cities in in the late 1989, God gave me a vision for Allies. As I sat in my rocking chair in my living room on December 4, 1989, He dropped three things in my heart as pillars for the ministry.

  1. Network youth communicators (school assembly speakers) with a vision to reach the youth of America.
  2. Network youth workers in communities with a vision to reach the youth in their communities.
  3. Network the students on the campus with a vision to reach a friend.

From the early days of Allies, we have been a leader in ministry to youth. We have faithfully worked with youth workers in the Twin Cities building partnerships and assisting the church leaders to reach and mentor the next generation by pursuing those three simple objectives.

Over the years, I have learned a few things. 

There is going to be change. Ministry leaders come into the city and they also leave the city and their youth ministry positions. Think about the change I have experienced. If a youth worker stays in their position for 3 years, I have seen the Twin Cities youth ministry landscape turnover 9 times. But though out all the changes there has remained a foundation of unity in this region to reach the youth for Christ.

Another thing I have learned is, how to live by faith. Yes, you can have little faith like a mustard seed, or big faith that can move mountains. On our journey, my wife Rachel and I have definitely experienced both those kinds of faith. But a time we have just called it stupid faith. Why? Because it just didn’t make sense.  Yet, as the late Dr. Mark Buntain would say, we just kept “pressing on”.

There were times when we would felt like we were just hitting our heads against a brick wall. The vision stretched our marriage, impacted our family, our health, and our finances. But despite these all the obstacles, barriers and challenges we faced we continued to pursue the vision God gave us. I guess what I am saying it hasn’t been an easy journey and it would have been a lot easier to give up!

But I am glad it didn’t quit. Because just a few days ago on February 16, 2017, guess where those 830+ ministry leaders from 350+ churches gathered? You guessed it? Cedar Valley Church (the old Bloomington Assembly of God Church).

I am sure that very few of those leaders had any idea of what I had envisioned over a decade ago just down the hall in that building. They never knew about the early morning pray times I had with Clarence St. John (Superintendent of Minnesota Assemblies of God) where we would pray for God to unite His Church to reach a generation for Christ. Now that room is packed with hundreds of leaders who are uniting with the purpose to reach a generation for Christ.

You might call me crazy, but it wouldn’t be the first time. But I believe we, the Church of the Twin Cities, are on the crest of a really big wave of unity that the world is going to notice. My friends, it all focuses on our mission to reach and mentor the next generation for Christ.

So, don’t tell me perseverance doesn’t pay off. I could have never even imagined that my vision would go full circle all the way back to Cedar Valley Church or Bloomington Assembly of God Church where it all started for me. 

Don’t give up on Your dream, it might be 27 years later, but #never, never, never give up on your dream!

God, do it again!

17 years ago, Allies gave 10,000 Students this Challenge 2000 Card!

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Selling Hope

Hope
One morning last week, I was looking through my inbox. There was an email from the John Kaisich Presidential Campaign. You too, may have received the same email in your inbox. But what caught my attention is how the campaign manager and the strategists on his team were selling hope. The hope they wanted me to buy into was that their candidate could win the nomination for the Republian party nomination.
The messaging came from the chief strategist and their copywriters who spun it this way. It read this way, ““The Stop Trump movement missed an opportunity to support Gov. Kasich in New York and deny Trump quite a few more delegates but we’ll get another opportunity next Tuesday.” The email was all in the effort to communicate hope and get my support with my voice and my checkbook for the Kasich campaign.
 All my life I have been selling Hope. But the Hope is not political but a message of giving this generation Hope. This Hope comes through knowing the simple, yet life-changing message of knowing God in a real and personal way. No matter where you find your self in life or what you have or don’t have or what your circumstances are. In the midst of all of life you can still have Hope. You can know the peace that only comes through having a relationship with Jesus. Letting God take your hopelessness and give you Hope, because of what happened on a old rugged cross.
Yes, there is no question what happens in November political is going to bring change to our nation and impact the world. So that is why all those in this Presidential race will continue to try to give their supporters and our nation hope for their vote and personal gain.
But when a person comes to know the love, joy, peace, and Hope that Jesus can bring. They is Hope for not just for life now, but it will have an impact for eternity. Jesus said it this way, “I have come to give you life” Life that is abundant. Life that is full. Life that is free! Join me in bringing Hope to your world and I will do my best to bring Hope to me world. When you and I do that we can being Hope to the world and our lives will impact the next generation for eternity.
I just saw that John Kaisich has withdrawn from the Presidential race.

Twists and Turns

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The journey that we all are on at times takes many twists and turns. The course we are traveling is very seldom a simple straight line from point A to point B. There are detours on the road that mess with our plans and our time frames. Those decisions we make in life may cause us to either stay on or cause us to veer off the path. Sometimes when you do go off the path, it might not be what you had planned or was not part of your game plan. But who knows, it might just be exactly what you needed to actually put you back a place that you can get back in the game.

So whether we are talking about your life, marriage, or career stay wake and keep your focus on the road ahead.

Many years ago, I was driving to Kansas City with my family. At that time we had a new Jeep Grand Cherokee and we had been driving for about five hours. My family were all sleeping and dad was at the wheel. Yes, I was a little tired, but you know how that is you are on a journey to a distinction so you push through. You suck on ice, chew bubble gum, and open the window to get a little air blowing through the car. Well, that is what I did.

After we had passed through Des Moines I was doing well, but it was about an hour south of Des Moines I got tired. So tired that I was starting to nod off a little. So more bubble gum and ice to chew on and window up and down to get that breeze. But all the sudden on one of those times I nodded off, I opened my eyes and had no idea where I was at or what I was doing. Now the Jeep has down in the ditch with the cruise control on at 70 mph when I was jolted to realize my situation. Now all I could think about of was getting the vehicle out of the ditch (lucky that I did, because there was a culvert we would have hit). So still in a daze, but I did not hit the break. I just tried to get out of the ditch.

 Have you ever been trying to get out a ditch?
Now everyone is awake as the car comes up out of the ditch. When I hit the pavement I had to do something, so in my daze I hit the break and the car spun around a couple of times (without flipping over) and after a few seconds (which seemed like an eternity) the car came to rest in the middle of 35W in Southern Iowa. I was shaking. Everyone in the car was shaken, but glad to be alive.

So what did we do? Well, after pulling over and getting my bearings again. I got back into the drivers seat and we just proceeded on the journey. That incident that we experienced could have been very devastating to me and my family, but the only thing we could do was to get back on the road. But when we did, no one went back to sleep. We all stayed awake keeping our eyes on the road toward Kansas City.

There are times when you have to wake up and react to the circumstances that we are in. Just get our bearings again and get back on the road. There too are times, when we just need to relax because there is nothing you can do about the detour on the road you took. Yes, it might take a few minutes longer to get to our destination. But what I have learned in life is, if stay on the course we will get there. In both causes we just need to keep going.

So again if in your life, career, marriage, or any other part of your journey, you are going to have those twists and turns on the road. There maybe some times when you will encounter detours from what your plan is. The line between point A and point B just might not be straight, but my friends, if you will stay on the road you will get to your destination.

 What do you do when the twists and turns come to your life?

Checked Your Heart Beat, Lately?

Paddles
When was the last time that you checked to see if your heart was beating? Up until eight years ago, I am not sure if I hardly knew how or where to even check. But February 17, 2009 my life changed forever.

I was rushed from a Park Nicolett Clinic to Methodist Hospital in a ambulance. After going in for a check-up all the sudden the doors were opened with nurses and doctor told me that I needed to go immediately to Methodist Hospital and they had call an ambulance. They took me to a room and put a 12 lead on to monitor me heart, as soon as the ambulance arrived I was wheeled out on the gurney, put into the vehicle and I was on my way to the ER.

When I arrived they ran a echocardiogram and the test came back that my ejection fraction (a measurement of how much look the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction) was 10%. He told us that my heart was enlarged because of the fluid and that I had a heart value that was leaking. Not such good news. Matter of fact one of the first things he told us was that he had contacted the University of Minnesota and that he was putting me on the heart transplant list. I wasn’t sure is that was better or worst news.

That was February 17, 2009 and now today I am happy to say that I am still alive and functioning. Yes, things have changed a lot in my life and for my family. There have been times through out our almost 39 years in our marriage when we might be in a tough season. At those times I could tell my wife, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine”. Well, even that changed that day because of new fears of future and what that would mean moving forward. But with the medications that my cardiologists have me on, for the most part, I have maintained a pretty good quality of life.

Yes, I still battle arrhythmia. It is a condition where my heart will go out of sinus rhythm and will beat irregularly. Why that happens is a mystery to us and the cardiologists.  But it is a reality we live. Just in past 12 months my heart has been out of 35 times, where a episode will last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours usually. But with what I call “my pill in a pocket” it will (the pill) shocks my heart back into rhythm. But if that does not work within a 48 hour period from the time the arrhythmia begins,  I have have a procedure administrated to me called cardioversion.

This procedure is done by a electrocardiologist who places PADDLES on the heart and administrates electronic voltage to shock the heart back into rhythm, hopefuly. This all needs to be done in a timely manner within a 48 hour period from the time the arrhythmia begins. If not there is greater risk of stroke.  Over the years I have had this procedure performed four times, but in the past few. The pill has worked for me every time within the time perimeters that have been set.

So all in all I have been able to maintain a pretty good quality of life. When my heart is functioning and beating right I feel really good. When it isn’t well that is another story. I really just want to do nothing. When I stand I am dizzy and get hot and honestly most the time I just want to go and crawl in bed. I will drive myself crazy at times checking my wrist every few seconds, hoping and praying that my heart will go back in rhythm soon.

So that is why I asked the question, “Have you checked your heart beat lately?”

Yes, I have shared a little of my journey physically. But for you it might not be physical.

What vital sign do you need to check in in your life, leadership, or passion to see if you are healthy and beating right?

Do whatever you have to do to keep it your heart beating, even if it means PADDLES!

Sometimes You Have to Just Play the Game

There were many storylines and talking points about Super Bowl 50. But sometimes you just have to go out and play the game. 

For the past couple of week it feels like all the news was about three things. The republican and democrat candidates vying for the presidential election posturing and Carolina Panthers playing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, and the Half-time show. If the chatter wasn’t about Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or Jed Bush, it was Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. It was sure to be about Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, or Cam Newton, NFL Player of the Year, and the offensive machine of the Carolina, or the future Hall of Famer, the aging Payton Manning and Von Miller and the Denver Defense. But if not the elections or the games, it was going to be about the Pepsi Half-time show or the commercials.

There is no question these are all different types of events. One is about the future of our country that will have a profound impact on all our lives and even the world. The others is a just an entertainment and a 3 hour game. But, every year in the world of sports this spectacle continues to grow, and in just two years the show is coming back to Minnesota and the new US Bank Stadium.

Even though there is so much that surrounds these days in early February, there is a game that is played. Before the game begins there is two-weeks of analysis by the expert commentator on the national sports shows, local sports talk show personalities. There will be interviews of players and coaches on both the winning and losing teams. At the awards ceremony show, the ownership and coaches of the winning team will presented the Super Bowl Trophy and a MVP Player of the Game will be named.

There would be none of the Super Bowl hype, if that wasn’t a game. But there is a game that is played.

This year when you listened to the experts “breaking down” the game for two weeks, it felt very much like Carolina was going to be the clear cut winner. A star quarterback of the future against the aging “Hall of Fame” quarterback of the supposedly past. Even though the defense of the Broncos was good, most did not believe that they could stop the “Carolina train”.

But as we all know, sometimes you just need to play the game. It might look very lopsided on paper or on the stat sheet, but to have a winner you must but the pads on, lace up the shoes, and go play. When you run through the tunnel on to the field with all the adoring fans cheering you, you realize it is game time. There will be yards gained by both running and throwing the football. There will be yards lost on sacks. There will be turnovers as a running back that is trying to get a few extra yards, loses the ball. Or a defensive end rushes the quarterback and a force fumble or makes the quarterback under pressure throw the ball that results in an interception.

You see, sometimes you just have to play the game. That is exactly what happened. I guess you could say I bought into all the “Carolina Hype”. At my Super Bowl party, the prediction I made was a little off at halftime I thought it would be 21-7. I really thought that Cam Newton would just come out firing on all cylinders and they score 31 points and win Super Bowl 50.

But sometimes you have to play the game and early on in the contest the tone was set. When the second player in 2011 NFL Draft, Von Miller clashed with the first player in that draft Cam Newton, and the ball squirted out of the hand the quarterback and rolled into the end zone and a Denver Bronco fell on it for a touchdown. That play set the tone for the entire game. Even though there may have been times when the Carolina offense started to get a spark, it was that Denver defense that just made all around 112.5 Million views feeling like I did.

There were many observations that were made about the game and even the post-game activity. But for me the two take-a-ways were.

  • You only affect the outcome of the game if you are in the game.
  • The only way you can win is to play the game

What were you observations?

Sometimes We All Need A Nudge

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Have you ever needed a nudge, a push, or even a swift “kick in the pants” to get you going in the right or a different direction? There are times in life when you just cannot stay in the same spot, there needs to be a change or you need move to a different position. That different place might be in your skills development, thinking or a situation in life. These nudges can from in different ways, from different people, at different, times, in different circumstances or twists and turns that are happening in your life.

But there are times when you just might be stuck. There is something that is holding your back from moving forward in your life or in your career. It might be you are experience fear, or you you don’t want to move because where you are you are comfortable. Whatever you situation in life sometimes you need that someone in life, a friend,  co-worker, or a boss to give you a little nudge.

We all respond differently to the nudge. But it will cause you to react. You will either push back or push forward. But when you get the pushed there will be a reaction. But honestly, it just might be what you actually needed to get your to change you thinking, mindset, or position to make you succeed.

I remember playing basketball and our coach had introduced a new zone defense to our team. He called out the players that he wanted to go to different position on the court. The first string players were moved to where the coach wanted them to be when the ball was at the top of the circle. Then he told the second string team to play offense and to pass the ball around the parameter of the (3 point) circle.

When the ball was passed around the parameter by the offensive team the defensive team would react by moving to the position the coach wanted them to be in to defend in that zone defense. As we learned this new defense the coach wanted to have in our game planning, there were times when players did not get to the spot they were suppose to be when the offense passed the ball.

You may have experienced this in your athletic career. After practicing and walking through this defense and our coach telling us where he wanted us, it was time to go live. So the ball was being passed by the offense and I was on the first string playing defense. The ball was passed and I was out of position. The coach blew his whistle and said something like, “Buschow, when the ball is here, I want you in this position”. But as he was saying this to me, he did more than just say it. It physically came over and did more than “nudge” me he took and pushed me into the right position. When he did it, “with a forceful nudge” it put me in a better spot to defend and our team to all be in the right spot to succeed.

Well maybe it is not on a basketball court or in sports, but there just might be a time, or even times in your life when you needed either a gentle nudge to move you from where you are to where needed to go. That little nudge might have even be a little more forceful, it might feel like a “kick in the pants” from that boss, a friend or someone that just cares. Nevertheless, the purpose is to get you to get you to move, change, or get into a better position to succeed.

Maybe your stuck or having a difficult time getting started doing something or making a change. It could be that your life has taken some downturns and you are not in a good position, either mentally or emotional at this time. For you it could possibly be a failed marriage, a broken relationship or problem with a friend. That position or change that need to happen, maybe in you job or career path. You just might need an nudge to make that adjustment in mindset or processes that results a change so that you can win the business deal or succeed in your life.

Whatever it is, you just maybe you need a little nudge. So when the push comes, how will you react? Will you resist or embrace the fact that someone wrote something (like this blog), or said something to you over a cup of coffee or in the bosses office? Just remember it just might be all part of helping you to move into a better position so you can win or succeed.

Are you currently in a position that you need a “nudge” or maybe a “push” to get you going in a new direction or thinking differently? If so, who

Do you remember a time when you needed a nudge, or a “kick in the pants” to move?

 

 

My Windshield Wipers Aren’t Working

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It is a Sunday night and the plan was to leave early in the morning to beat the traffic. When my wife got up she looked out the window and saw big flakes of snow coming down. She could see the roads were already covered with the white stuff. The weather report was that the snow would start about 9 am, but I guess the weather man was wrong because it was 6:30 am and we are going to need to leave earlier than we had originally planned to beat the traffic.

So now we have a new plan. It is, go as soon as we can get ready to leave. So we are rushing around getting ready, grabbing a little breakfast (we decided not to have the traditional scrambled eggs), and then grab the suitcase and my computer bag and we will be out the door.

I went out to start the car, because it is not winter Minnesota and I wanted the car to be nice and warm for my wife when she go in the car. So we pull out of the garage and it is snowing. So I did what you need to do in this situation, I turned on my wipers. When I turned them on the arms came-up the window and the driver’s side blade fell off the blade. Remember, we are in a hurry to get on the snowy, icy, and slippery roads and I have never had the blade fall off the arm before. But why today! We are in a hurry.

Remember, we are hurrying to beat the traffic on the first day of snowy, icy, and slippery roads. What? You have to be kidding. The my wiper blade has come off the wiper arm?

So I got out of the car and looked at the blade. The truth of the matter is, when I am not rushed and I have the instructions in front of me, I have a hard time putting on the windshield wiper blade on. So now, it is snowing, we are trying to get ahead of the traffic, and I have an wiper arm without a blade on it. We have a problem.

At that moment I had a choice at that time. The way I saw it I had a few options. My first was to quickly try to get the blade back on the arm, so I tried that and in my haste realized the plastic piece that held the blade on the arm was broke. So that option was out the window. The other choice was to go back home and get the MiniCooper, that care is not the best in the snow, but it could work. So I thought of one other option. Just lift the arm without the blade from the glass (so it would not scratch the window) and just drive with the one blade on the passenger side. So that is what I did.

What I realized is that you can drive a car with one windshield wiper working. It is not easy to do, because you have limited vision, so I had to really concentrate on what I was doing while driving on the slick roads. It is not something that I would recommend, but nevertheless, it can be done.

So what was the lesson?

Isn’t it amazing how things that we take for granted or seem such little part of our life go when they don’t work can mess us up. Your vision can be hampered, or that little thing can throw you off of your game, or hinder your progress.

This morning, “My windshield wipers were not working” and it threw us off our plan and it also limited our vision, but after I dropped my wife off at the light rail, I went and fixed the wiper.

Don’t you wish all those things in life that can hamper your progress, limit your vision, or throw you off your plan could be fixed by just going to the auto store?

Think about this…

What do you wish in your life, relationships, business or any other part of your world you could fix by going to the auto store?

 

Your Story Really Does Matter?

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Yes, your story really does matter! Jesus commanded us to, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” He also told us as believers to “Go”, but we would not have to do it alone. The promise was we would receive power to tell what we had experienced and witnessed to “our” Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.

What I have experienced in the Church, is we were really good at the ends of the earth part of those words of Jesus, but the Jerusalem part was difficult for all of us. It does seem to matter our age, whether we are (older or younger) Boomers, Baby Boomer, Gen Xers, Millennial’s we have all been called to tell the story. Matter of fact sometimes I have seen the older we get the more callous we are to the story.

We see it all the time with people going on a missions trip to some other part of the world. They are so excited to go and work day and night doing everything thing we can to impact the lives of those we are trying to reach in foreign country. They raise money from family and friends to have the experience of a different world. The mission may be to may feed, cloth, pass out literature, have gatherings on the streets and/or in buildings (or a combination of some of all) to see lives changed.

But when we get home from the incredible experience, does it really impact us in reaching our Jerusalem or does it get us excited about taking another mission trip. You see people in our neighborhood, in the work place, friends, teammates on our ball team, fine arts, or in our classrooms need to hear the story. These are people dealing with all kinds of issues and challenges in their lives and they to hear the story.

So what is it that keeps us from “our” Jerusalem? Is it the fear? Is it rejection?

Paul said it this way, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to very one who believes. Is it the message? You see there is a place where we come into the story. Call that experience, moment, or season what every you want, but the journey of being a Christ follower starts somewhere.

It is I Cor. 5:17 that says, “If any man or woman, boy, or girl be in Christ he is a new creation the old life is gone and a new life comes.” There is a change in your life.

But that is just the beginning of this exciting journey. Because everyone needs to not only come to faith or start the journey, but they really need to own the experience. What do I mean? A person needs to own their experience?

If a person owns their relationship with Jesus it will impact how they live their life, for the rest of their life.

As a person lives there life, they will out of the natural interactions be able to share their story with others. In the church that has been called witnessing. I really believe it is the fear of witnessing that scares people from witnessing. You see your story and your journey from darkness to light is powerful. It is your story and it has the potential to resonate with the people God brings into your path. When you step out or look for opportunities to share your story those opportunities will come. It maybe with a family member, friend, colleague, or a stranger who needs to hear “your” story.

When you come to faith, when you understand the fact that you need to own your faith, it isn’t your dad or moms, or friends faith it is yours, you will live it. Think about it this way. You come faith, then you have to own the message, when you own it, you will live it, when you live it you will naturally share it. I really believe if you own, live, and share your story, you will keep your faith for a lifetime. Through all your life-turns, changes, and challenges your will have a solid foundation to build your life on.

There is an old hymn that I remember singing. I can see mom at the piano or on the organ and dad at the pulpit leading the congregation in singing these powerful words, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” It is the second verse says, “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gal, my anchor holds within the veil.” Then third verse we would sing,

When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” Then the chorus, “On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

There are going to be struggles and challenges in your life, but when you life is build on the foundation of the rock you are going to have opportunities for you to share your story. How God transformed your life. You will be able to tell about what your life was like before you became a follower of Christ and what has happened since that time in your story.

You see, if you own and live your faith, just be ready God opens the door for you to share your story. As you continue to share your story of transformation and struggle to be fully alive in Christ, the story you share will keep you alive in Christ for a life-time.

Your Story…it is yours. Own it! Live it! Share it! Keep it fresh and alive for a life-time!

Do really realize that “Your Story” really does matter?

It could just be that “someone” who your life intersects who just needs to hear “your” story. It just could be your story that will help them to write a “Better” story as together, we invite people to pursue the struggle of becoming fully alive in God.

Four Questions to Ponder:

  1. How did you come to be a Christ follower?
  2. What does it mean to you to own your faith?
  3. What does living your faith look like to you?
  4. Do you look for opportunities to tell someone your story?