In other words…

How are your daily devotionals going? Are you spending time with God reading His word and praying each day. If not, you are missing out!

My hope for you is that you would use the daily readings that we provide at CrossPoint as a simple way to stay on track, focused and renewed in your faith.

A simple way to interact with scripture each day is to practice rewriting. Just like there are hundreds of versions of scripture that have each been translated for different needs and reasons, I think a great spiritual exercise is to create your own translation from time to time.

It’s a simple way of processing God’s word by reading it, praying/thinking through it, then re-writing it in your own terms… we’re not creating a new Bible… just expressing it the way you are reading and understanding it in the moment…

Sometimes a rewrite points out things and gives insight that you didn’t recognize in just a glance or reading. It causes you to think through the vocabulary, and truly process what we’re being told.

That was part of my devotional today. 

Let me share with you! I was spending time in the familiar passage of the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew six. I wrote two columns in my journal: one to write out the Lord’s Prayer and then one to rewrite it in my own words.

Here is what I enjoyed this morning:

Matthew 6:9–13 (in the English Standard Version):
9 “Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name. 
10 Your kingdom come, 
your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us this day our daily bread, 
12 and forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
13 And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil.” 

Now, Matthew 6:9–13 (in the Andy Unstandard Version):
“Loving God above, great are You and great is Your name.

May Your rule and reign extend. May Your desires and plans prevail. And, may the earth become more like heaven because of You.

We trust You for all that we need.

We confess our wrongness and rejoice in Your mercy. May it transform us, causing us to be merciful to others in kind.

Protect our path today and shelter us from our own weaknesses. Rescue us from the evil in this world.”


It’s just that simple. 

Take some time today to get in God’s word. Download the CrossPoint app (link here) for a daily reading list if you don’t know where to begin and maybe start a journal with this practice as one of your first entries. 

Write out God’s word, thinking and praying through it, then rewrite it in your own words. 

And (just as a bonus of course), maybe even live it out in the day that follows.

Many blessings my friend!

More of Him, less of me – Pastor Andy Addis 

Stay Sharp

Thank you to all who took the opportunity to be a part of the Global Leadership Summit. It has become a regular part of our offerings for personal, spiritual and leadership development, and as always there were some fantastic challenges and thoughts:

  • “Your faith doesn’t make life easier… your faith makes you stronger” – Erwin McManus
  • “Never trust success blindly, but treat it with the same skepticism as you do failure.” – Rasmus Arkensen
  • “All leaders see more than others see, and they see it before others see it.” – John Maxwell
  • “Don’t call them fails, call them ‘learns.’” – Carla Harris
  • “Your ability to deliver on big vision is only as good as your ability to deliver consistently on the day to day details.” – Bishop TD Jakes
  • “You do not have to be in charge in order to lead. You have influence!” – Craig Groeschel

Those were just a few of the highlights as I stroll through my journal notes from the last couple of days.


I know that many of you did not have the opportunity to be a part of this experience. Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day! I understand.


But, let me encourage you always to make time to improve yourself. Not only for your sake, but for your other CrossPoint team members, and the congregation you serve at the behest of the King.


There is a law of diminishing returns that happens in ministry far too often. We work hard and fall short of our goals, so we work harder and gain a little more ground. The problem is we are now working twice as hard for only half the results.


Then, out of frustration, we make plans to work harder and harder and beat ourselves down more and more. 


This is not God’s plan.

Am I talking about the Sabbath? A little.

Am I talking about getting rest and learning to say no? Some.

More importantly, I want to remind you how important it is to sharpen your ax.


Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.”


There is only one person that can make you take the opportunities in front of you, and that’s you! 


Whether it’s conferences, podcasts, books, or one on one conversations, you cannot always pour out; you have to be able to receive.


When you receive, you evaluate.


When you evaluate, you dream.


When you dream, you change.


When you change, you are a leader.


Many blessings my friends. As we work on this incredible task together called CrossPoint, I want to remind you that we are privileged to be called by God for this hour. And, I am doubly blessed that He has given me the opportunity to walk toward the cross, everyday, hand in hand with you.

A Note From The Doorman

I don’t know that I was planning on writing to you today, but I am inspired!

Not in a good way.

Here I am at this coffee shop enjoying another day’s worth of Kansas weather suffering from an identity disorder: Should be 85 degrees or so this afternoon, get ready for snow Saturday night, but right now, just enjoy the wind.

As I sit here in the corner all nestled in for a good study session, another customer left the store and without looking back failed to notice that the door they used blew wide open and stayed open. In fact, if you listened carefully, you could hear the small whimpers of brackets and hydraulic arms being pushed too far in a direction they were never intended to swing.

It only took a few seconds to recognize this door would stay propped open by the wind until… Mayish? Maybe June?

That’s when my eyes flittered about the room filled with other customers.

  • I saw a dissatisfied glance leading to a frown fueled by an unwanted breeze. Or, in all honesty, by a gale force wind.
  • I saw another customer never break eye contact with her book, but reached up to zip her jacket a little higher.
  • There were a couple of others, locked in position and unmoved like a still painting reflecting a tableau of modern life I’d like to call “Hipsters in Repose.”

Though I was not the closest, I got up and walked across the room to grab the handle and close the door.

As I walked back across the room, I enjoyed the many thanks of those who were now escaping the harshness of our semi-rural, micropolitan environment.

Er, I mean no one said anything (or even glanced my way).

Ok, no one get offended thinking I was offended because I thought it was offensive that I had to do that.

Calm down.

That’s not my point at all. Closing the door on a windy day is no great sacrifice

Maybe that’s my point.

Why don’t we get up to close the door when we see it’s stuck wide open?

I mean, when we know something needs to be done, why don’t we just do it!

I made a statement at CrossPoint this past weekend that “You don’t need counseling, you just need to start doing what God’s word has already told you to do.”

In other words, close the door!

This is no argument against counseling. There are all kinds of moments and circumstances significantly advanced through Christian counsel. Lot’s of healing can be found in counseling and therapy.

But, what if your problem wasn’t others, circumstances, or something super deep-seated? What if you just need to get up and close the door?
You don’t need a circular saw to cut a piece of paper… the answer is easier than that.

For instance, we taught that the instructions of Ephesians 4:25-32 advise us in several ‘closings of the door’:

Honesty is the only policy. Maybe we should just start telling the truth?

There’s a right way to be angry. Could it be that it’s time to deal with the hurt

Do something for someone else. How about we look around and do something for someone else, just because?

Use your words for good and not evil. Perhaps we think about filtering those comments before hitting ‘post’?

Your attitude sets the scene. Don’t get me started, just change the attitude.

Let’s trying this, a test if you will. When we know what God’s word instructs, let’s do that. Start what we should, stop what we need to, take what you already know and use common sense.

Well, I feel better. Thanks for letting me vent. I had a couple more thoughts, but this is getting a little long, and the door is open again.

“No, no everyone. I got it.”

Overwhelmed

If I could use one word to describe most people I see today, it’s overwhelmed. We know what we mean when we use that word to describe our circumstance, but have you ever actually looked up the definition?

overwhelm | ˌōvərˈ(h)welm | – verb 1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass. 2. defeat completely. 3. give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate. 4. (usually be overwhelmed) have a strong emotional effect on. 5. be too strong for; overpower.

Sadly, these definitions often hit the nail on the head, and what comes next is a list of even worse words: quit, fail, depressed, anxiety, etc. We’ve all been there. 

But, why is this the case when we know that this is true: “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

There seems to be a missing piece of connective tissue between the truth of “greater is He who is in me” and the crushing weight that seems to be on top of me. Let’s hear from somebody who is in the same boat, our good friend the psalmist.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” – Psalm 34:17-20

Now there is a list of words that we would love to have as descriptors for our life: deliver, near, saves, keeps. Now we are talking!

The Psalmist finds himself in this place for three good reasons: “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord…”

  • Righteous – Parents afford their children natural protection when they are obedient. If you’re in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, there is very little chance you can get yourself in trouble. It’s the same with God’s children, and this behavior is called Righteousness. It’s true that we have the righteousness of Christ, but Paul would say, “Just because we have grace, should we go on sinning? Absolutely not!” Living a righteous life affords you certain protections.
  • Cry For Help – Admitting you don’t have enough is the beginning of the road to recovery for the overwhelmed! To suffer in silence is to become bitter. To deny the reality of your circumstance is a form of self-induced insanity. To ignore the warning signs is to drive off a cliff, through the barricade. Cry out!
  • The Lord – And, that cry needs to be to the Lord. Have you noticed that when you try to fix your overwhelming circumstances yourself, it often leads to one specific place… being even more overwhelmed. Check your logic here: I am at the breaking point, so, let me DO SOMETHING ELSE to fix it. I think we see the problem now.

When you are trying to live the righteous life and cry out to the Lord He may miraculously intervene, He may sovereignly guide you to make changes, He may do what only He can do.

The one thing we know for sure, being overwhelmed is real, and there is a real answer: Cry out to the Lord and then do what He says.

What God doesn’t want…

Well, it’s that time of year again! With back-to-school season come all kinds of activities, obligations, and restarts of all sorts of things.


 For me, the start of a new school year means teacher in-services, college chapels and motivational talks to incoming freshmen.


 This year, I picked one passage to speak to Christian schools who asked me to help kick off the year. The title of the message was: “The Syllabus for the Christian life.”


 The three mandatory elements of the syllabus for the Christian life come from Micah 6:8, a passage I’m sure you’re familiar with:


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

In this passage, we see what God wants from a believer, well, wants is not the right term; requires is the word He uses. But, the verses just before verse eight tell us the things God does not want, and I find them interesting enough to share with you as CrossPoint leadership.


6“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” – Micah 6:6–7 (ESV)

  •  Coming before the Lord and bowing before God most high… it’s not a bad way to start, but when it’s all about putting on a show, that’s not what God wants. We are all guilty, remember the last time you tripped in public? You defied gravity and fought through incredible pain just to pop up as quickly as possible and scan the horizon to make sure no one saw you fall. We all care what people think. What God doesn’t want is our public displays of devotion just to be seen.
  • Coming before him with burnt offerings… that should do the trick right? Unfortunately, many of us have gotten into the bad thought habit of believing that when we do something “for God” then He owes us. We would never say it out loud, but we wonder when stuff is going bad if maybe somehow we have shortchanged God and He is letting us know. Offerings are good when they come from the heart, but when they are more like club dues leading you to believe there are benefits you deserve, that’s a no no. What God doesn’t want are our sacrifices in which you think He now owes you.
  • Pleasing the Lord with thousands of rams and 10,000 rivers of oil… now that’s a worship service! All the spectacle of temple worship, but times 10,000. It would’ve put Hillsong the shame! Great worship is great, but only if it’s greatly focused on the One who is Great. Many times when people say, “Worship was amazing!” What they are actually saying is, “Man, I really enjoyed that.” In that space let me remind you, worship isn’t for you. The question we should ask ourselves following worship is, “Do you think God was pleased?” What God doesn’t want is worship that’s pointed at Him, but meant for you.
  •  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for my own sins… that is the cry of a desperate and devoted person, kinda. When suffering from guilt rather than conviction we can get some crazy ideas, and lead us to silly statements and inappropriate commitments. Even if we are really remorseful about something in our past, even the recent past (like this morning), we need to remember that God is not into double billing. If you are so remorseful you’d be willing to offer your own son, don’t forget that your bill has already been paid by another Father who offered His Son in your place. What God doesn’t want is absurd repentance out of guilt that doesn’t lead us to grace.

 Sometimes it’s important for us to know what God wants, like doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with Him. But, we must never forget that those of us in the “business” of ministry can sometimes find ourselves walking in the weirdness of rules we made up, feelings that are not valid, and ideas that are not godly.


Let me encourage you, you don’t need to come up with something new. “He has told you, O man, what is good,” and all we must do is rest in Him.


I love you guys, and I’m thankful for you every day. Many blessings out there in CrossPoint land!

Take a Stand

It takes a leader… I’m thinking about you guys. Leadership inspires followship. And, serious followers become next generation leaders.


I’ve been reading the book of Acts and taking it very slowly. One of the things that stood out to me (no pun intended) is that when the church was under duress, and decisions needed to be made, after they gathered, a time of unifying, and a season of prayer… We get this verse:


Acts 1:15 (ESV): 15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers…


It’s not just enough to stand up, it must be built upon a season of growth, discipleship and prayer. But, when that season has come, it’s necessary to stand up!

What’s really interesting is what happens in the next chapter. I don’t think the language is used by mistake. It says after the coming of the Holy Spirit when the disciples were being mocked and questioned Peter does something similar, but slightly different see if you can see it:

Acts 2:14 (ESV): But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them…

I find that fascinating. He maintains his leadership and stands up in the face of opposition. But, this time he’s not alone.


Continue to prepare yourself, be a disciple before you focus on making disciples, but know there is coming a time when each one of you will need to “stand up!“ And on that day those who follow will eventually be the ones to stand with you.

Not Alone

It was one of those awkward moments after a Sunday morning service when a visiting family looks at you and asks if you remember them… Oops.

My mind raced, thinking the faces looked familiar, but I couldn’t place them. After an apologetic wince, I asked for a hint, and then it all came together: he was a former coworker/boss, and she was my middle school speech teacher!

This would probably be a fun moment of reminiscing for anyone, but you have to understand the background here. 

As a pastor, I have been speaking publicly and regularly since 1991, but I wasn’t born this way. I am a true introvert, not just self-diagnosed, but testing that way time and again.

 I, like others, grew up with a fear of being a public spectacle and having to speak. That’s why the eighth grade was rough when I got bumped out of a physical education class because of an injury and put into the only class left with space that year… Speech and Debate. 

I thought I was going to die. 

Apparently my self-predicted doom was obvious, but that speech teacher looked at me with compassion and promised me I would live. She permitted me to start slowly but challenged me to move forward. She held the bar high, but as much as any teacher could also held my hand while getting over the bar. 

Her husband was a communication professional working as a radio personality for a local station, and he agreed to meet me. Before too long, I had a part-time job working in the same studio. 

Speeches, dramatic readings, a spot in the school play, forensic competitions, regional debate finals, spinning records, and reading the weather on a 100,000 Watt radio station… my world had changed!

Now I look back at nearly 30 years of ministry with countless presentations, thousands of sermons, and a life lived ‘upfront.’ I could not be more thankful for that silent cheerleader I called Mrs. O’Connor in the eighth grade.

Many of us today are afraid to do, speak and step into the spotlight. Not always because we’re introverts, or fearful of public speaking, but because we live in such a divisive, hostile, and threatening world.

For those of us who are called believers, we sometimes feel incredibly alone, and even though we know we have the Good News of Jesus Christ to share, it is so intimidating to use your voice in this world.

In those moments, I remember the Apostle Paul, who everyone says was so bold he would charge hell with a water pistol. 

I don’t think so.

Several times we see the Lord encouraging him. For example, Acts 18:

“9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,  10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ ”

It must’ve been incredibly encouraging to know that he was not alone, that there were allies about him of which he was unaware.

The story is the same for us today! We are part of the world-wide, Body of Christ, and we need to take courage that God has been, is, and will be doing more than we ever knew.

Stand up, speak up, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent’!

Seeing  my speech teacher after service that day was  a reminder that there are those rooting for you, on your side.

She said, “You’re not that scared kid anymore, A+!”

It made my day… now you go and do the same. 

You are not alone.

Something you may not know about about the Christmas story

I think I know something about the Christmas story you don’t. But, you’ll have to wait for me to get there.

We start Christmas in our family the moment the Thanksgiving turkey disappears from our plates, and one of my favorite traditions is working through a long list of Christmas movies.

A favorite is any variation of the story of the Ebeneezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim tale called a Christmas Carol. The new computer animated version was the first movie I watched this year, and a single phrase leaped out at me: “He knew how to keep Christmas well.”

I’ve heard how people enjoy, look forward to, and even miss Christmas when it’s over, but I’d never thought about “keeping” Christmas.

So, where is the bit about something I know of the Christmas story that you don’t? Patience, it’s coming.

This leads us to Joseph, not from the Charles Dickens novel, but a character from a much older book: the Bible.

The Joseph I am speaking of is the man from THE Christmas story: the carpenter, the husband of Mary, the stepdad to Jesus. Yeah, that Joseph.
He holds a monumentally significant role in the Christmas story.

First, he was chosen by God to raise the Son of God. What must that background check have been like to make the cut and be picked for team Savior?

Second, he was able to wrestle through the cultural embarrassment of a fiancé who showed up pregnant and claimed the Father was God. Instead of dropping her like a telemarketer’s call at dinner, he responded with gentleness and courage simply because God told him to in a dream.

Third, three kings show up at his door to bring his stepson gifts. But, when that same night God warned him again to take his family to Egypt and keep them safe, he hit the road. Left friends, family, job, everything familiar to take care of that little Boy and His mother.

Fourth, he spent the hard years digging it out and providing for Jesus, helping Him grow up, and teaching Him to become a man. Even as Jesus got left behind at the Temple, it’s a reminder that Joseph took the reigns of spiritually leading his family as Luke 2:41 says, “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”

You’re probably ready to interrupt saying, “Yes we knew all of this. I thought you said you knew something we all didn’t?”

You’re right, here it is.

Were you aware that in all of these stories, over all of these years service, through numerous interactions that Joseph… is silent.
It’s true. Go back and look at every story. The Bible never records a single spoken work from this epic character.

Mary speaks to him.

Angels speak to him.

The Lord speaks to him.

But, Joseph never says a word. He simply lets his actions speak for his life and heart.

Matthew 1:24 says, “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”

That’s just how Joseph rolls… a man of action.

I think this is the essence of “keeping Christmas.”

Feelings are good, and words do mean something. But, “keeping Christmas” is about what we do.
What forgiveness can you offer? What sacrifice can you make? What joy can you share? In what way can you go past the words and feelings and begin the practice of “keeping Christmas.”

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and many blessings to you as we “keep Christmas.”

 

Special thank you to the Hutchinson News for printing  this in the Faith section December 9, 2017. 

The thankful part of Thanksgiving

It is that time of year again. Holiday music starting to play, some crisper days with chilly temperatures and the calendar filling up with holiday celebrations.

First up, Thanksgiving.

How are your preparations?

It’s usually at this point in the season that I get sent in as a cleanup hitter to pick up items at the grocery store that were missed in the first pass.

They already got the big stuff: the turkey, the stuffing, and a pie or two. But, we forgot the cranberry sauce (because no one eats that stuff anyway), the celery/olives/pickles that you put out just to make it feel like you’re trying to eat right, and the cream cheese for the last minute cheese ball.

Yep, finishing the list is important if you want to be ready for the big day. I wonder if we make the same effort to be prepared to actually be thankful on this day we called Thanksgiving. I mean, we named the day after thankfulness… I think we should give it a shot.

In fact, I’ve come to believe in studying God‘s word that thankfulness is actually one of the signs of spiritual maturity that let you know you’re making progress. The Apostle Paul was one of those who was thankful no matter the circumstances. Let his words be our guide this holiday season:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Let me start a shopping list for you, not one for you to run to the store and pick up, but one you can assemble right at home in your prayer closet.

If were truly going to be thankful we will need a big cup of self awareness: so many times we are not grateful because we haven’t taken stock of how blessed we are. A few minutes praying through, writing down, or speaking out loud the good things that we have and have experienced will sometimes put it in perspective.

I would also grab a couple of cans of expectations. Things may not be exactly the way you want them in the moment, but when you follow the God that I know you’ll soon discovered that you’re being set up… for the next move, for breakthrough, for hope, for blessing. Praying in expectation that God has heard, does love, and will answer… Now that will add Some thankfulness to your holiday.

Also, pick up a big bag of get over yourself. Yeah, maybe not the tone you expect from a holiday article, but come on… you know we need a heaping helping of that. It’s hard to be thankful when we haven’t looked around, and seen the needs of others and not just how blessed we are in comparison, but the joy of seeing how we might be used by God to help in their life.

Looking outward not only get your eyes off of the things that you think are inadequate or troublesome in your own life, but it gives you the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s. I can tell you, one of the best ways to become thankful is to live in a way that makes others thankful.

Sure, there are a few more things that may round out your thankfulness meal, but this is a good starting point.

Let me encourage you as a CrossPointer to remember how blessed we are, let that fill your heart, and take a step or two to share that reason for thankfulness with someone else this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving… I’m thankful for you, I’m thankful for our blessings, and I’m thankful for our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Seeking more of Him and less of me,

Pastor Andy Addis

John 3:30