Why is Life so hard?

Recently I was asked this question by someone who was slugging it out with life.  They were disappointed, again and again, and they were at the end of their wit.

It’s true isn’t it?  Things seldom go as planned and we can lose our nerve.  We often plan our steps, taking great measures to plan in detail every move.  When our plan is complete we set out for the final destination.  Maybe it’s a new business idea, a family vacation or personal budget.  Perhaps it’s weight loss, strength training or competing in a triathlon.  Whatever the plan the old phrase, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” rings.  Doing things right means making plans, so we make a lot of plans.  What happens though when things don’t go as planned?  We can’t lose a pound or bench press another plate.  What happens when the biz doesn’t perform, the income fails the budget, and the family vacation goes from sunny and 80 to raining and 66?  Frankly, I’ve learned when things don’t go as planned most people get disappointed.

I’ve been disappointed a lot in my life.  I try and get over disappointment quickly, because it vexes me.  Too much disappointment and I start unplugging the lamps from the light-sockets and swaying in the dark.  That may be an overstatement, but I’m not myself when I’m disappointed.  I don’t love the same, don’t do my work the same, don’t exercise the same, don’t live anywhere near my potential, and it’s all because things didn’t go as planned.  I don’t think I’m alone.

Many people struggle with disappointment.  When I encounter them I want to help, I want to have the magic words, the necessary resources or be a miracle worker to bring things back from the dead.  Most of the time, I listen, I watch, I try and be empathetic, understanding, encouraging, trustworthy, helpful, insightful, but most of the time I tell the ‘disappointed’ I love them because usually anything else I’d want to say just doesn’t seem to fit the moment.  If I could here’s what I’d say every time.

DON’T LOSE HEART!

That’s it, I don’t lose heart!

If you and I will not lose heart we will experience victory over failure, triumph over defeat and recovery from loss.  When I lost my mother and father in a plane crash over 12 years ago there were moments I thought I’d never pull myself from.  When I faced the economic shift of 2008-2009, professionally and personally, I wasn’t sure if I could keep my nostrils above the water.  When given the news of infertility after planning to have children our whole marriage Melinda and I didn’t know how God would fulfill his promise.  When adopting our first child and the birth mother decided, in the last moment, to parent I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out, oh wait, I did.  When we put our heart and soul into vision, we believed was from God; dreams, we’ve had since we were young; ministries and churches, we’ve entrusted others to lead; and friends, we’ve led to Jesus, but those special plans lay dormant, don’t come true, fail and leave, like you, I look to heaven and ask, “Why is this so hard?”

He answers me, “Don’t lose heart!”  If we lose heart, we lose life.  We cannot lose.  There is too much riding on it.  Too many mountains still to climb, victories to be celebrated, achievement to be honored, wedding to attend, people to laugh with, salvations to experience, people to disciple and I could go on and on.

Say this with me out-loud, yes, right now!!

Because it’s hard I set my gait to not lose heart.

Because it’s disappointing I tell my mind to be quiet when it wants to fail me.

Because it’s so challenging I stir up the gifts within me and stay strong.

Because when all is said and done I will win when I don’t lose heart!

I don’t know what your facing right now.  It might seem insurmountable.  Losing money, losing friends, losing loved ones, I count it all as loss, but what I cannot lose is the control center of my life, my heart!  DO NOT LOSE HEART!  Carry one.  You can do it.  You are not alone.  You WILL comeback when your heart stays intact!

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Racing is a Great Metaphor: Let’s talk Flow!

Let’s talk about flow.  Flow is the fluidity of something.  I think of lava flowing from a volcano, or water flowing down a riverbed.  I also think of a rapper not pausing between words.  He just flows!

I’ve been learning how to flow in the race car, and adjust my driving style to however the car is handling when the green flag drops.  I have one of the truest “flowmasters” in the Northwest Auto Racing scene to teach me.  When you watch someone flow it seems effortless, almost like art.  Think about the times you’ve seen it.  Good guitar players flow, good home-builders flow and people from every walk of life flow.  And when they are flowing special things happen!

Thinking about racing with flow has had to confront some of my long-time personality traits.  For instance, I like calculated.  I usually plan my attack on anything I attempt, but because my plans become so staunch it’s hard for me to change mid-sentence, or mid-stream. However, because things change, I need to learn to flow.  So do you.

On the race track this shows up in a variety of ways.  For instance, when the tires are wearing at the end of a long race I can’t put the car where I want to, so I often get rattled.  Flow says, “Put the car where it needs to be to stay fast, not where you want it.” This helped me a lot in the last race.  The car was maybe a 5th place car, but I was battling for 3rd with 5 laps to go.

How many times do things not go the way we planned and we get spun up?  Instead of spinning up realize you can still accomplish your tasks for the day if you will simply flow.  Racing is teaching me I can still accomplish the goal when things don’t go as planned.  Instead of pulling back, or worse getting disappointed, because there’s an unforeseen obstacle I can just flow and keep pursuing the checkered flag.

I challenge you to flow today.  It’s uncomfortable at first, but with enough practice you’ll realize your goals will be accomplished the same, just maybe not according to what you thought when you started.  Go ahead and flow.

 

6 SHOUT OUTS!!!

1.  SHOUT OUT TO Big Day because it was really a BIG DAY!  

August 5th was special for The Rock Church in so may ways.  It was the largest ever one-Sunday in July or August history!  Just shy of 800 people in attendance.  There were 30+ hands raised to receive salvation, and 8 of those turned in a card declaring they’d given their lives to Jesus!  There were many new families, and exactly a dozen made themselves available in the VIP lounge after services.  Can I just give a huge SHOUT OUT to the entire team who made this happen!!!

2.  SHOUT OUT to LIFE Weekend

September 22 and 23rd!  You are going to want to put these dates on your calendar ASAP!  It is LIFE Weekend.  Life Weekend is that first Sunday where we want all our TRC’ers back in the house after a long summers break.  Let’s face it, those last couple weeks of summer, and first couple weeks of school can be packed with this or that!  LIFE Weekend is our opportunity to prioritize THE VISION OF THE ROCK CHURCH, and get our engines revving full tilt!  There will be a special event on Saturday morning, guest speakers, and a huge worship experience on Sunday!  You don’t want to miss it.  I am also super excited to have with us Pastor Kevin Gerald!  Pastor Kevin and Sheila serve on The Rock Church Pastoral Advisory Team.  They love Melinda and I AND THEY LOVE OUR CHURCH!  You will want to hear every word as Pastor Kevin drops wisdom bombs on our house!  Seriously, don’t miss LIFE Weekend!!!!

3.  Jack Weekend Shout OUT!

Growing up playing baseball was one o the highlights of my childhood!  This October 6 and 7 we have non other than 4-time World Series Champ Darryl Strawberry at The Rock Church!  Saturday night is a Jack Event (men only).  I encourage every man to get a ticket, and get 4 more for their friends!  I encourage you to bring your sons, dad’s, grandfather’s–every man in your life!!!  It is going to be an incredible moment hearing from such an accomplished professional athlete!!!  Then on SUNDAY, bring everyone you know!!!  I am believing for 1,500 on Sunday morning at The Rock Church to come and hear the great message from Darryl.  You can bet it will be exciting on every front–worship, the message and meeting amazing people!!!

4.  The Generosity Progression SHOUT out.

I want to quickly introduce you to something I’ll be talking about often at The Rock Church this coming fall and into our future.  I have asked the Lord for a plan and system to help me develop generosity in the lives of Christ-followers.  I am very excited about what has developed as I’m calling it The Generosity Progression.  It will be a series of steps for every Christ follower to become more generous in their walk with God!  Three truths will always remain for every believer.  1.  The Church you attend will be member supported.  The funds for the house come from within the house.  2.  You can never separate your giving life from your spiritual life.  Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be.”  3.  Generosity and being a disciple of Jesus are linked.  There are simply too many instances and examples of generosity surrounding those who follow Christ to ignore this reality.  I am really excited about the future of TRC and it’s member’s through this system.

5.  SHOUT OUT TO…United Church! AND Lifesaver’s!

Can you believe what is happening at United Church?  In just a short few months the youth ministry at The Rock Church is exploding with growth.  I’ve personally met 3 families who are new to The Rock Church in the last month because their kids are being reached!  WOAH!!!  It’s really awesome.  We have really awesome people in our youth ministry.  John is leading them well!  Pray for me this week as I head to Ignite Camp Wednesday night to preach to our students.  It is one of the funnest things of my summer!

Also, our Children’s ministry is kickin!  Get behind Nahshon and Rachel as they set a course for exponential growth and spectacular worship services for kids.  We are seeing some huge WINNING coming from the volunteers in our Children’s camp.  Love them all and keep it up!!!

We live amongst the greatest people of the Northwest!  Don’t waste another week not doing anything with all the amazing people at The Rock Church!  There’s a lot going on so get to www.therockchurch.info and plug in.  See ya soon!