Step 1: do what you love! Whatever good thing is in your heart, God probably put it there and you will come alive when you do it!

Step 2: love what you do!  Too many times people quit doing something great because they fell OUT of love with it.  Too many marriages, jobs, churches and friends have split because people stopped loving what they once loved.  Everyone, from time to time, gets mad at what/who they love, but that’s all part of the journey.  Don’t forget that love requires dedication, sacrifice and perseverance.  Doing anything great requires those attitudes.

If you are a believer in Christ, you are like a fighter in a ring (1 Tim. 6:12).  And every believer, just like a fighter, should have a trainer in their corner (if you don’t have a trainer you’ve probably been getting beat up.  Get one!).  A trainer is someone who teaches and motivates you and holds you accountable.  A trainer genuinely wants the fighter to win.  But a trainer cannot fight your battles for you.  He/she cannot even get in the ring with you.  The fighter has to fight.  As a fighter, you should listen to the trainer if you want to win but, in the end, you are responsible for your own effort.

And if you’re a trainer, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than being in someone’s corner and telling them what they need to know only to watch them give up. You feel sorry for them because you know how difficult it is to be fighting in that ring. You know that when YOU are in a fight your judgment can become distorted and the temptation to quit becomes so very strong.

For you Fighters (and we all are): Remember that during this fight you will get hit!  And you will make some mistakes.  But the biggest mistake is giving up!  The fight may not be going like you wanted, and you may not believe there is any hope to win, but with God all things are possible!  ONE PUNCH can turn this fight around!  The only way you can lose this fight is if you quit.  There is a false peace that comes when you quit (because it’s nice to not be fighting anymore!).  HOLD OUT for true peace, the kind that comes from the Holy Spirit, the kind that is still there even when all hell is breaking loose (Phil. 4:7)!  Also, be teachable and learn from your trainers.  God put them in your corner for a reason.  But this fight is yours and no one else’s, no excuses.  And last but not least, surrender to the Holy Spirit.  He is the only one who can be in the ring with you besides the enemy.  He can empower you with strength and strategy beyond what you are able to conjure up within yourself.

For you Trainers: I know how frustrated your fighters can make you.  They can be arrogant know-it-all’s, they don’t always listen and it seems like they give up way to easily.  But how will they learn to be patient if we are not patient with them?  How will they learn to listen to us if we don’t listen to them?  You will have some fighters that give up.  You were in their corner but you could not fight their battle for them.  God will continue to work on their hearts but even He will not make their decisions for them.  Let them go.  Paul had to let John Mark go but he eventually came back.  You never know.  Hang in there and keep training the ones that stick around.  All your hard work will pay off one day IF you don’t lose heart (Gal. 6:9)!  Set a good example because one day your FIGHTERS will become TRAINERS.

1 Timothy 6:12  “Fight the good fight of faith…”

2 Timothy 2:3-5 (Message)  “When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere.”

Taking a cue from 3D, we decided to launch a series called Bucket List at Chosen last Thursday.  I talked to the Chosen students about Abraham and the #1 thing on his Bucket List – a son.  It was a dream planted in his heart by God but it seemed impossible to achieve because he and his wife Sarah were 100 and 90 years old.  Eventually Abraham learned that with God all things are possible AND not only did God give him a son but He made Abraham the “father of many nations”!  During this series we are challenging the students to dream BIG!

So we asked the Chosen students to write out their own Bucket List during small group time and here is a selection from several different students:

  • “To be a softball coach” – 6th grade girl
  • “To cure an incurable disease” – 12th grade boy
  • “To go on a shopping spree” – 7th grade girl
  • “To go see an NBA game” – 10th grade boy
  • “To see an NFL game” – 12th grade boy
  • “To have money to buy a car and to build a church” – 6th grade girl
  • “To go back to school.  I want to be a high schooler” – 8th grade girl
  • “To be a beautician” – 8th grade girl
  • “To own an ipod touch” – 12th grade boy
  • “To turn my life to God!!!” – 8th grade girl
  • “To be a musician” – 8th grade girl
  • “To get a job and a car and a home for me and my mom to live in so we don’t have to stay with my cousin” – 12th grade boy
  • “To pass 8th grade and always get good grades” -8th grade boy
  • “To ride the tallest roller coaster” – 8th grade boy
  • “To go to Woodland Hills Mall” – 7th grade girl
  • “To go to Disney Land” – 8th grade boy
  • “To be a model” – 8th grade girl
  • “To have a good relationship with my mom” – 10th grade girl
  • “To have a job” – 10th grade girl
  • “To get a job and my own place for me and my baby and to have my own car” – 12th grade boy
  • “To work on the police force” – 12th grade boy
  • “To find a stable place for my daughter to live” -12th grade boy
  • “To live in a safe neighborhood” – 7th grade girl
  • “To go to the BET awards” – 10th grade boy
  • “To meet my brothers and sisters” – 11th grade girl
  • “To find my brother and sister” – 7th grade girl
  • “To build my family a new house” – 12th grade girl
  • “To get my G.E.D.” – 17 yr. old boy
  • “Get my G.E.D.” – 18 yr. old girl
  • “I wish I could get rid of my anger” – 6th grade girl
  • “To go to a homeless shelter and share a sermon” – 10th grade girl
  • “To go Ice Skating for the first time” – 12th grade girl
  • “To see my grandma in heaven” – 9th grade girl
  • “I already have a child but I want to get my education” -9th grade girl
  • “Just to take care of my baby and watch her grow old” – 12th grade boy
  • “To be baptized” – 9th grade boy
  • “To get a makeover” – 7th grade girl
  • “To travel to Jamaica or Haiti and build shelters for the homeless” – 11th grade girl

By reading this list you can probably guess what kind of environment many of these students live in.  Please pray for the inner-city teenagers in America!  They need to experience the life-changing power of God!

ALSO… Chosen is partnering with 3D to grant at least one Chosen student something from their Bucket List each week!

  • When planning a pivotal week/month in your ministry area, don’t forget about the mental toll (not to be confused with troll – you need to watch out for these too) your activities will take from you.  It’s easy to look at a calendar and think “Oh I have enough time to do that”.  Time isn’t always the issue.  Prayer, rest, processing and debriefing are also essential
  • If you need rest, rest.  It’s the same with prayer, processing and debriefing.  Don’t mow the lawn (I’m always trying to get out of this one!), don’t work on your house, don’t be a good parent (ok bad idea).  The point is DO what you NEED to do or else you’ll take time off without actually preparing yourself for the next big thing.
  • If what you’re doing takes a mental toll, be sure to plan extra time for prayer, study and reading.  If you’re preaching or teaching more often, get some EXTRA prayer time in.  If you don’t plan these into your week, you’re planning to fail
  • And while you’re working, walk in the grace of God (His ability to do what you can not do in your own ability).  Without grace, burnout comes quick!

On August 11th, the IMT program launched O2 for the IMT Team Leaders who are in their second year.  O2 is an intense training course designed to teach, stretch and unite Team Leaders and prepare them for a challenging year.  Because of a vow of secrecy we have all taken, I can’t go in to further detail.  But I can tell you that O2 has been nothing short of incredible!

Not only have the Team Leaders built chemistry, but the IMT Staff has as well.  It’s the first time many of us have worked together and I’ve been so impressed!  There are sure to be growing pains but so far we have flourished together.

A few days ago we asked the Team Leaders to discuss their goals for the year.  Then we gave them hundreds of sheets of paper and asked them to create a mosaic.  In a short time, the TL’s created “FamUnity” – a combination of Family and Community.  It’s one of their goals and now they have the opportunity to live it out.  More to come…

I’ve been standing around in awe.  I’m so honored by the element of teamwork I am witnessing right now.  There are teams of people working together to accomplish common goals.  Everyone has a different role but they’re all chipping in.  There are Chosen leaders putting in long hours so that inner-city teens can be reached.  There are IMT students serving on multiple levels including Chosen, Mobile Kids Clubs, Youth Ministry, the poor, Homes for Haiti and they’re even serving each other.  There are family members and friends who help Christina and I with our kids and our ministry projects.  The list goes on and on.

I don’t know how it happened but it’s happening.  It’s a sight to see.  To everyone who serves on the ministry teams worldwide: Thank You!  God has not forgotten your labor of love.

Unity is the most powerful earthly force!

How can we forget how good God is? We are a sight and sound generation. When we don’t see or hear God moving in our time frame, we too often forget His goodness. That’s why the Bible teaches us not to dwell only on what we see, but to “walk by faith and not by sight”.

Finally, we see the answer from God and it hits us: He was always good. So good! Why did we forget? Why did we need yet another reminder?

The goodness of God is so much bigger than we realize!

If Jesus says “The greatest commandment is….”, we should probably stop and listen.  He said that it’s to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.  And the second greatest commandment is similar: Love your neighbor like you love yourself.

Love God.  Love people.

We can talk all day about loving God but the bottom line is that we already know that we are supposed to do that.  But there are so many of us that don’t realize our responsibility to love others.  Recently I attended a conference session and Dino Rizzo (author of Servolution) was the speaker.  He said that the Bible speaks of two basins.  One basin Jesus used to wash His disciples’ feet.  The other was used by Pilate to wash his hands “of” Jesus.  To be done with him.  We can either wash people’s feet or we can wash our hands of them.

I’m typing this on my new iPad that my amazing wife and family gave to me for my 30th birthday. I’ll be as fair and honest as I can be in my review. But I love this thing!

1. You have to realize the iPad is not a replacement for a MacBook.  You might say “Why don’t I just get a laptop?” Well, a fully loaded MacBook can be $2000 more than an iPad!

2. I love the iPad because of the way I can read books on it. You can use Apple’s iBooks store or the Kindle app to buy, store and read books. I like the Kindle app because they have more books (most are $9.99) and I can highlight and type notes in the book as I read it. Book reading is something I just can’t do on my MacBook. Also, the iPad feels great in your hands for reading books.

3. The apps offer something else my MacBook doesn’t. If you have an iPhone you know how useful apps can be. On the iPad they are bigger and better. Games and gadgets are a lot of fun on the iPad and I think app developers are just scratching the surface.

4. The iPad is THE best way to surf the Internet. It’s really fast, comfortable to hold while relaxing on the couch, zooms in and out and the images and video are crystal clear.

5. It doesn’t have Flash (and it doesn’t need it). So many sites, such as CNN, Vimeo and ESPN, are turning away from Flash just so that iPad users can still enjoy their site. Many others will follow. Apple’s philosophy is that everyone will come to them, not the other way around.

6. iTunes movies and tv shows look so good!

7. I love the 10 hour battery life, also a positive a difference from a laptop.

8. There are some apps that let you create documents on the iPad but nothing too impressive. Google docs and calendar will let you view but not edit or add new items. But it probably won’t be long.

7. The keyboard: it’s faster than an iPhone but slower than a laptop. You don’t want to type a long time on this thing.

Overall, I love it. I would have probably bought it just for the books and internet. It’s not a device that does everything (camera, iChat, phone) but at this price, it’s not supposed to.

Thank you so much Christina and family!

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -Ephesians 2:10

We’re all God’s creation but when He became our Savior we became a NEW creation, His masterpiece.  We are His artwork with a calling on our life to go and make more art.

Art – the quality, production, expression, or realm, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

(By Seth Godin) My definition of art contains three elements:

  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact and to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

(Also from Seth) “By my definition, most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work. ”

Your best work is ahead.  Maybe no one expects you to be an artist.  Perfect.  No one expected David, a shepherd, a boy too young to go to be a soldier like his brothers, to stand up to the giant.  Even the king couldn’t talk David out of it so he put his own armor on David.  It didn’t fit.  Art doesn’t live in a box.  David met the Goliath with 5 stones and a staff and the rest is history.  I dare you to tell me that is not art.  Stories don’t get more poetic than that!

And then there’s Jesus.  Everyone was looking for a savior, a king.  And he was born in a barn.  He said “I didn’t come to be served, I came to serve”.  No one expected that!  He took a towel and a bowl of water and washed his disciples feet!  That’s unexpected!  That’s impact!  That’s art!

The world is craving something genuine and authentic.  They are tired of hype.  The world used to be so attracted to anything that could shock them.  We have a unique opportunity because now there’s nothing shocking anymore.  If anything is shocking it’s people who serve the least of these, no strings attached.  Generosity is shocking.  The unexpected are the ones who do the right thing, the ones who honor God with every life decision they make, the ones that aren’t afraid to be different and aren’t ashamed to be a Jesus freak.

You may still be thinking “The guy in my class that draws Transformers – he may be an artist but I don’t get how I can make art”.  Would you say storytelling is an art form?  Every one of you has a story to tell and it’s a good one!  In your story you are the main character but Jesus is the hero and that story is a work of art.  It’s going to make an impact.  YOU can make an impact.

You are God’s art, created to make art in this world.

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