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Rob’s Blog

The Best Is Yet to Come

By Rob's Blog One Comment
My glory days are behind me. Every time I pick up a basketball, I’m reminded of that. Never again will I be able to dunk a basketball. Never again will I be able to play with the speed and fluidity that I once did. Never again will I be able to play two hours of full-court, full-throttle basketball and not wake up sore the next day. Never again will I be able to play at the level I once could. My body will just not do what it once did. My glory days of basketball are behind me. It’s a bit depressing now when I walk on the court and pick up the basketball, but I’ve mostly gotten over it. In fact, basketball is now just a pastime and the most important things in my life are not behind me; they are very much in front of me.
I have a dream of Brooklife becoming A Place For Everyone to Experience the Love of Jesus, Find Life-Giving Relationships, and Pursue their God-given Purpose. It is my dream but only in that I have embraced the dream that is actually God’s dream for Brooklife. God dreamt the dream of doing whatever it takes to make sure every lost sheep is found- doing whatever it takes and whatever is within His power to bring each and every lost sheep home. He passed that dream on to me, but He also passed it on to every one of us who calls ourselves Jesus followers. He commissioned us to fulfill His dream, and we should take that very seriously. It’s a crazy big dream that seems insurmountable, so it’s tempting to consider it a farce and, basically, give up before we get started. I mean how are we realistically going to create a safe place for the 50,000+ people in the MukMetro area to ask their real, raw questions about Jesus? That’s crazy talk! But, hold your horses! Have we forgotten Who Jesus is? Have we forgotten why we have placed our trust in Him? It’s not simply because He was a great talker and had great teaching. Many have had those skills and presented great teaching. We trust Jesus because death could not hold Him! He conquered the grave for Himself and for us! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that is active in our lives and is the source of our capacity to fulfill the dream to which He has called us. To say His dream is impossible is to completely disrespect Who Jesus is. Jesus is the resurrected Savior! He is God in the flesh! He is our hope! We must not only dream God’s big dreams. We must trust His power and presence in our lives to empower us to fulfill that dream.
And, by the way, God’s dream for us is not nearly as crazy as it sounds. That is…it is not as crazy as it sounds if each and every one of us steps up to the calling God has placed in our lives. There’s an old riddle that asks the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” And the answer is, “One bite at a time!” This same principle applies to reaching the 50,000+ people in this community with the love of Jesus. We’ll do it one bite at a time, and we won’t do it alone! Last year, our average adult attendance on a Sunday morning was 687 people. What if we could get 300 of those people to commit to create a safe place for someone to experience the love of Jesus and then commit to following Jesus like we are over the next year? That would take the 300 and turn it into 600. What if those 600 then committed to do the very same thing over the next year? Our 600 turns into 1,200. Then 1,200 becomes 2,400. 2,400 becomes 4,800. 4,800 becomes 9,600. 9,600 becomes 19,200. 19,200 becomes 38,400. 38,400 becomes 76,800. And now we’ve run out of people so we have to look at how to claim even more territory for the kingdom of God. All of that happens in less than eight years if under half of the adults at Brooklife take up the call to help at least one person find Jesus each year. Jesus’s plan works! It’s doable. But in order for it to happen we have to DO.
So let’s get busy. By 2025, we want to see:
  • 2,000 people attending our worship services!
  • 400 kids in Kidlife!
  • 400 students in our Student Ministries!
  • Over 1,200 people in small group environments!
We want to see God do something crazy amazing in this community! We want to see His kingdom coming here! We want His name lifted high in this community, transforming it from a community filled with desperate people to a community filled with people Hoping in Jesus Christ!
Over the next four Leadership Blogs, I will be expanding on this dream and giving us some steps to take as we take on God’s dream for Brooklife. Please take time to read and apply each one.

“Who are you?”

By Rob's Blog No Comments
Hogwash! That’s what it sounds like to me when someone tells me that my identity has nothing to do with what I do. Hogwash! Because what I do flows out of who I am! Now, it might not be accurate to find my identity as a basketball player, especially since I play so little of it these days. But, basketball does help reveal part of who I am as do my ambitions for volleyball, golf, cycling, running, triathlons, swimming, fantasy football, and card games. What they reveal is that I’m someone who likes to compete. I’m wired that way. You can take basketball or any other sport from me, and I will find a way to compete at something else. When God wired Rob, He decided to put a very large competitive gene in me. Not everyone has this gene. Some of you do, and my guess is everyone knows you do! But some are wired very, very differently from me. In fact, every one of you is wired way differently than I, even if we have the competitive gene in common. I am unique. You are unique. You are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of God, and so is everyone, and I mean EVERYONE else.
One of the most fundamental discoveries we must make is who God created us to be. One of the greatest secrets to finding God’s will for your life is simply to understand HOW God designed you. What are you good at? Where do you struggle? What are passionate about? I think it would be a great idea to stop right here and answer those three questions. Grab a sheet of paper or open a file on your device and start answering those questions. Then based on your answers, see if you can start to discern who God designed you to be.
You’re not an accident or an afterthought. You are very important because you are very important to God. You are one of God’s wayward kids who He desperately wants back home. You are loved. You are chosen. You are adopted. You are you, and God is crazy about you! He knows you better than you know yourself, and He wants nothing more than you to want to know Him just as much. He wants you to call Him “Daddy”. When you know who you are in God’s eyes, then you are given the freedom to admit who you are to yourself. God has gifted you in some amazing, unique and specific ways. Who are you? You should really get to know you, and you should like you because God designed you, and He doesn’t make junk! You should also be able to admit that you aren’t great at everything. Some of the things we struggle with are just not things we have an inclination toward and should depend on others for help. Other areas of struggle require us to do some maturing because these struggles are hindering us from becoming who God really designed for us to be. Until we figure them out, we will be greatly limiting how much God can pour out His blessings into our lives.
All of this requires us to stop and think about ourselves in the light of knowing that God loves us and intentionally designed us. “Who are you?” is one of the most core and essential questions each person needs answered. Once you figure out who you are, you’re probably supposed to help someone else figure out who they are. After all, this is A Place For Everyone to Pursue Their God-Given Purpose.

Growth is a journey

By Rob's Blog No Comments
I don’t think we can fully appreciate the incredible transformation which takes place in our lives as we grow from being a tiny tike to a full-grown adult. I mean, you start out as an infant incapable of doing anything for yourself. You slowly learn to hold your head up, then sit up, stand up, walk, and then finally to run. You start out with no communication skills whatsoever, well, except for screaming! You slowly start moving into verbal communication of grunts and groans, then to a couple words here and there, to fragmented sentences, to complete thoughts, to cohesive conversations and the ability to guide others with your words. We go from a place of involuntarily latching on to someone’s finger (this was a hard hit to my ego when I found out that babies grip your finger out of reflex and not because they like you! I was crushed!), to holding a toy, to holding a spoon, to tying a shoe, to plucking out notes on a piano, to swinging a bat, to riding a bike, to driving a car. We are really quite incredible creatures with growth potential that doesn’t stop even at adulthood. We might be done physically developing, but our mental, emotional, relational and spiritual capacities have no limit. We were designed by God to grow. In fact, if you’re not growing, we know that you are dying. So how do we keep this growing going. Specifically, how to we continue to grow and become who God designed us to be.
Growth of any kind is a journey. Maturation requires intentionality and time. It doesn’t just happen naturally, and you just can’t rush it. Most of the important lessons in life require the right voice at the time in the right environment. Spiritual growth best happens in the context of intentional, growth relationships. Our best method of creating these growth relationships are through our small groups. Groups designed to walk us through what it means to follow Jesus with all of our lives. On the front end of spiritual growth, there exists a great need for information, because how can you put into practice what it means to follow Jesus if you don’t really know Who He is or what He wants from you. Once you have started to grasp these things, then you can start practicing living out the Jesus life. And then once you’ve got some practice time under your belt, it’s time to start helping others figure out Who Jesus is and what He is about and then how they can put it into practice. In this journey, you’ll just continue to grow in your knowledge of Who Jesus is and what He is about and your practice of living out the Jesus life. It’s a beautiful thing that shouldn’t surprise us at all, because it’s a Jesus’ thing!
Please, please, please don’t think you have arrived! You have so much potential! Keep growing! And please, please, please don’t place limits on people based on where they are right now. Instead, see their potential and help them become the unique creation God designed them to be!

We are called to be lifesavers

By Rob's Blog No Comments
Lifeguards Rock! As a kid and then teenager, I remember just thinking there was something amazing about lifeguards…the red swimsuit, the life preserver thingy, the whistle and the big white chair! It was like they were on a different level than me. As a little kid, I dreamed of becoming a lifeguard! I don’t know exactly why it appealed so much except I knew it was a position of power, influence and importance. These people were literally there to make sure no one died. They had a responsibility, and it meant something. I still remember a specific time when I heard one of those lifeguards blow his whistle. I was at a wave pool at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, and when I looked up to find where the whistle had come from, all I saw was a streak of red and a lifeguard diving into the pool. I tried to figure out who he was going after, who needed his help, but I couldn’t see. I hadn’t been paying attention to what was going on with anyone else; I was too busy having fun! The lifeguard dove under the water and brought up a little kid. He hauled him back to the side of the pool, did CPR on the child and the child was fine. I was mesmerized by what the lifeguard had done. He had left his position of safety and authority so that he could save that desperate child. That lifeguard would have done no good whatsoever if he had just sat in his seat blowing his whistle or even yelling for the kid to stop drowning. For the lifeguard to make a difference, he had to get into the pool.
When we look into this community, I can’t help but think that Jesus has called us to be much the same as that lifeguard. Jesus placed a call on each and every one of His followers to go out into the world and shine the Jesus light brightly, just like He did. Jesus lived with real people in a real world which involved real problems. Jesus encountered both the beauty of humanity and its ugly underbelly. Jesus didn’t run from the culture; he actually ran to it. He went to parties, participated in religious activities, worked a real job, and talked in the language of the day. He never made it about Him. He came to seek, serve and save that which is lost. He came to redeem, to make all things new. And because of it, He shined brightly. He effervesced with life, love and truth. People were just drawn to Him even if they didn’t agree with Him. He was one of them, with them and yet so, so different. His difference was not forced; it simply flowed from Him having a different agenda. Jesus was for people; whereas, people are for themselves. Jesus knew people would never come to Him so we went to them. He left heaven to meet us where we are at. We’ve got to allow the church to be the church.
Jesus has called us into a high, sacred position as His followers, but that position is not one from which we look down and blow proverbial whistles when people are out of bounds. Instead, we do what Jesus did. We get our hands dirty. We get out into this world and bring Jesus’ love, truth and life to those who are drowning in desperation, without hope, because they haven’t yet met Jesus.

God the Father, God The Son, and God the Holy Bible?

By Rob's Blog No Comments

“God the Father, God The Son, and God the Holy Bible.” Doesn’t sound right, does it? And yet, this is basically how I was brought up. We really didn’t talk much in my church about the Holy Spirit. He was way too abstract! We much preferred talking about the Bible and, in my context, the King James Version of the Bible. To be honest, it really always felt like we were worshiping the Bible.  If we read and memorized our Bibles, we were told we were pretty much good with God. Yes, we should pray, but that was just an exercise in confessing our sins and laundry listing our requests. The Bible was the thing that was most important. And please, please, don’t hear me wrong. The Bible is the greatest gift God gave us second only to Jesus, but it is not equal to Jesus. Jesus is the full expression of God while the Bible is what God decided to show us about Himself and how He works. Because Jesus isn’t here right now, we gladly and gratefully take this inspired book of books and let it lead us because it is God’s words for us. Here’s how I describe the Bible:

The Bible is how we see God most clearly today. We see Him everywhere in nature, in people, and in the beauty of it all. But, that picture is not nearly as clear as God wants to make Himself. How does a God so big, powerful and knowledgeable best reveal Himself to us? Well, He shows up in a way we can see and speaks in ways we can understand. The Bible is an inspired collection of people’s stories of their encounters with God and God’s desperate pursuit to bring each of us home. God preserved these stories scattered throughout history so we could know Him better. The ultimate preserved story is that of God becoming flesh, dying to redeem us, and then conquering the death we deserve. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God. When we see Jesus, we have the best picture of Who God is and what He is all about. Scripture is an incomplete picture of God, but from God’s perspective, it’s everything we need to be able to place our trust in Who God is and what He is about.

What We Need To Know — The Gospel

By Rob's Blog No Comments

“Burn, Baby, Burn!!!” Okay, so the preacher never actually said that. He told all of us at church that day if we didn’t admit our sins, beg for forgiveness, and ask Christ into our hearts, we would spend eternity burning in hell. From the twinkle he had in his eye, it sure seemed like he was way too excited about the thought of us burning! And I have to admit, it was effective. That day as a four year old boy, I knew I was a sinner and would burn unless I got some Jesus in my life. So I confessed my sins (which took a long time even though I was only 4!), begged for forgiveness, and asked Christ into my heart. But, I have to wonder if that preacher might have missed the point. For years, I spent my spiritual time preparing for heaven, and by that, I mean preparing for after this life is over; my focus was completely on life after death. That’s when everything would be perfect with no more sin, pain, suffering and death. I was so looking forward to getting outta here. In fact, many times I questioned why God didn’t go ahead and just take me “home” ‘cause that would have been a whole lot easier than messing with this world. It made perfect sense to me with the understanding of the gospel (the good news of Jesus) that I was given as a child. But that is not the whole gospel.

If I were asked to describe the good news of Jesus today, I would use much different terms than I would have 20 years ago. It would probably go something like this:
The Good News about Jesus is that He is for us. Each one of us living on planet earth is frustrated and, to at least some extent, making it up as we go along. We are trying to convince both ourselves and everyone else that we are actually good people and have a good handle on how to live this life. But deep inside ourselves, we know something is desperately wrong. We are missing something that is essential to us being complete. In fact, we are in a search for completeness, but everything that we go searching for leaves us eventually feeling empty. These things that we use to make us “complete” might work for a while, but they cannot fill the void in our souls. We are designed for something more and created to be something so much more. The only thing that will complete us is the thing that is most foreign to our natures: to admit that there is nothing we can do to fill ourselves. We are dependent on someone else to do that for us. We are dependent on someone else to complete us, to make us whole, to give us the essence of life. That person is Jesus. We don’t like this idea because it means we have to surrender control of our lives to someone else, and we love to believe we are in control. We are even happy to just pretend we are in control until we can’t any longer because it has become obvious that we are on a path of self-destruction. We are on a path that is leading to a head on collision with reality, and the results will be the absolute destruction of our souls, leaving us in a place of desolation, isolation, and despondency. BUT (and this is the good news), Jesus hasn’t given up on us. Even though we have rejected Him and His ways repeatedly, even though we have betrayed Him time and again, He loving and passionately pursues us to bring hope. He brings us hope in Himself. He has come to set us free, to give us life! He is for us! He gave His life to make us whole. He gave His life to give us life. And it’s not something we have to wait to experience until life after death. We can experience His life now! He gives our life purpose, meaning, joy and peace, in the midst of all the crap this world is throwing at us. He is our rock and, when we stand on Him, the storms of this world are transformed from hurricanes to afternoon sprinkles. Jesus calls out to each and everyone of us, “Come, follow me! My burden is easy, and my yoke is light.”

The gospel I heard as a child left me praying I had done everything right with my prayer of repentance. The gospel I know today leaves me inspired to become and do everything God has prepared for me to become and do. This gospel gives me life. Everyone needs a place where they can experience the true good news of Jesus.

Is stubbornness a bad thing?

By Rob's Blog 2 Comments

Stubborn, headstrong, bullheaded, cantankerous, ornery, hardheaded, mulish, pigheaded, and unreasonable. Those are just some of the synonyms for how my parents referred to me and my little brother, Aaron. Aaron was stubborn in a loud way, and I was stubborn in more of a quiet way. We fought a lot. I mean, what else would two incredibly stubborn boys do? So when it came to whatever our latest debate of the day, Aaron’s arrogance came in the form of him having to have you agree that he was right. He was always so convinced that his view point was correct that he literally could not sleep until you agreed with his position on a topic-no matter what topic it was. My form of being stubborn comes off as more agreeable but is probably an even worse form of pride and doggedness. I would debate with him for a while, but when I came to the conclusion that he was never going to have the clarity of mind to see that he was in error, I would just dismiss him. I would then say something spiritual sounding like, “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” Oh, he hated that, and I loved that he did!! In all of those debates/fights, the biggest thing missing was a desire to see another perspective, to see that there is more than one way of looking at things. Truly in most cases, there are many “right” ways to do things. If your initial response to that last sentence was something like, “There might be many ways of doing things, but there is only one right way!” then you might just be as stubborn as I am!

Before I go further, please know that I believe persistence is an incredible gift from God. Otherwise, we would give up at the first sign of trouble, or we wouldn’t stand for anything. We all should be proud that we are resilient and persevering, but we must be careful to ensure we are being tenacious with the right things. When I stubbornly hold to a point without being able to hear a different perspective, I don’t believe I’m being wise. Some of my greatest break throughs in my walk with Jesus have come through people who saw things differently than I did. I made a commitment over 20 years ago now that if someone brought up a perspective that was different than mine about God (or really anything else), I would take the time to research why I believe what I believe versus the other beliefs. Let me tell you, it’s uncomfortable at times. But my faith is stronger because of it. I am stronger because of it. And my witness of Jesus is stronger because of it.

Here’s a quick example. Last night, I was playing sand volleyball with a team I’ve played with since the summer of 2016. One of the young ladies on my team was talking about a great new show she found fascinating. It’s some sort of science show on Netflix with Will Smith as the host. In the middle of telling me about the show, she stopped and said, “Wait, I take that back. Don’t watch that show.” I was very confused. I asked her why she took back her recommendation, and she said it’s because it’s very science based and teaches stuff that goes against the Bible. The old Rob might have debated the point with her on how science is mostly theoretical and how people make statements based on blah, blah, blah…  The old me would have felt the compulsion to defend my stance. But slightly wiser version of me today simply said, “What are you talking about? I love science! I’m not bothered by science at all! I nerd out on the stuff!” I asked her the name of the show, and you better believe I’m going to watch it. Not because I’m going to believe everything in the show, but because if my faith can’t stand up to a tv show, then what kind of faith do I have? And there was a bonus to my conversation with this young lady as well. Later, that evening she brought back up that I was a “priest”. I told her I wasn’t a priest but a pastor but that I could understand how that could be confusing. She then went on to ask if I would be willing to perform her marriage ceremony for her. I just wonder if that opportunity would have happened if my stubbornness had led the way in my conversation with her.

Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is the best choice for keeping a relationship alive. But many times for me, it becomes a cop out, the easy way out. I’ve got to do my homework. I have to understand why I believe what I believe, and I need to understand why someone else believes what they believe. Our beliefs are tied to our identity. If we don’t take the time to learn the what and why of someone’s beliefs, we aren’t really taking time for them. We’re just stubbornly pushing our agenda without caring for who they are, and they deserve more.

Emotional Intelligence: Active Listening

By Rob's Blog No Comments

Hallmark movies, fishing TV, and cooking shows…What do they have in common? They are on the absolute bottom of my “want-to-watch” list! I just don’t get them! Hallmark movies are the sappy, make you want to cry drama. Yuck! Fishing TV, really? It’s boring enough fishing in person when nothing is biting! And then cooking shows: I don’t care how you made it; I just want to eat it!

Now that I’ve made everyone mad at me, let me get to my point: we are all very different. We have different interests, concerns, perspectives, ambitions, passions, upbringings, wiring, personalities, loves, political persuasions, interests, and beliefs. And that’s just for starters! So how in the world are we supposed to get along with one another, let alone communicate with one another? That is the question we must answer if we are to accomplish the dream God has given us to make A Place For Everyone. To make this a place for everyone, we have to be very diligent in understanding everyone.

On the last post, I shared how important it is that each of us exercises Emotional Intelligence (EQ). The first part of that is discovering who you are. Hopefully, you took the time to take the assessment and learn a little more about yourself. But after you learn about yourself, now you’ve got to start learning about others. The best way I’ve found to actually learn and understand others is a practice called Active Listening. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of Active Listening: a technique that is used in counseling, training, and solving disputes or conflicts; it requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. Now, your first impression of Active Listening might be similar to mine, which is that seems like a lot of work, and you’re absolutely right. It means we truly have to care about the other person enough that we listen to understand. We ask questions that are open-ended. We set aside our agendas and allow our interests to take second chair to the interests of the other person. We hold back our instincts to judge and seek to learn about this amazing creation of God that sits or stands right in front of us. We care. After all, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

By the way, this isn’t some sales tactic, at least not for us followers of Jesus. This is us truly caring about God’s son or daughter. When we take the time to truly learn about someone and why he/she sees the world the way he/she does, I believe we will find less judgement in our hearts and a whole lot more compassion. Funny, that sure seems like something Jesus would do.

Here’s the challenge I’ll throw out for us. Find someone who’s in your circle of influence who seems to have a different take on reality than you do. You know, someone who probably annoys you a little. Take some time to Actively Listen and learn what that person is all about. It could change everything in your relationship with him/her.

For us to accomplish our dream to create A Place For Everyone, people are going to need some Life-Giving Relationships, and it just might mean you are the one who is supposed to be providing that relationship for this amazing person God designed and created.

Emotional Intelligence: Enneagram

By Rob's Blog 2 Comments

“I’m not yelling!” Yes, I am one of those who doesn’t think he yells even though others perceive me as yelling. I grew up in a house full of yellers. My family is loud and sarcastic! My family is probably a bit inappropriate for some people! So when someone says I’m yelling, the filter I run it through is the filter of what yelling looked like in my house. With that in mind, I quickly dismiss this person’s observations that I’m yelling because if they want to hear “yelling”, I can show them yelling!

But here’s the thing. Perception is reality for people. You can argue that perception isn’t reality and people should know better, but what good is that when we are trying to communicate with people, to help people, and to live in community. If I want to be able to speak into people’s lives, to help them experience the love of Jesus, to be a life-giver for them, to help them pursue their God-given purpose then I’ve got to exercise some Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

The first time I heard of EQ was at a Global Leadership Summit, where Dr. Travis Bradberry presented what he thought was the most essential attribute of successful people today in any industry. He spoke of how IQ (intelligence quotient) and business acumen were all nice and grand, but without EQ, you’d never be able to make the splash in this world that you could. I’m not going to bore you with a ton of details. You can go look them up for yourself at TalentSmart.com. But, I will tell you that the more I’ve looked into this EQ thing, the more I’ve become a believer. Why? Because it’s based on two simple concepts: knowing yourself and knowing others.

We know we are all different. We have some similarities, but we are unique. That uniqueness is part of God’s design for each and everyone of us. Each of us holds with us a glimpse of the majesty and glory of God. We are not accidental. So to get to know our great God, it makes sense to get to know His creations, and I think you should start with you. The better I understand myself, the better I understand why I do or don’t do the things I do.  When I understand myself, it allows me to start becoming who God created me to be. It requires a lot of sober judgement because I have to admit where I struggle and where I flourish. It also requires that I acknowledge that I don’t know it all, can’t be it all, and that I need help.

So let’s take a step toward getting to know ourselves a bit better. I love personality assessments. I’ve taken a dozen if I’ve taken two! I think they help me be honest with myself. One that is pretty popular in the church world right now is called the Enneagram. It has nine main categories and is pretty accurate on describing what motivates you and how that effects the way you live. You can take a free Enneagram assessment by going to this website: assessment.yourenneagramcoach.com. Once you’ve taken the assessment, I’ve found the definitions of each type extremely helpful on this site: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions.

I think it would be great to sit down, take the assessment and then see if you agree with the results. Now the more honest you are in your responses, the more accurate the assessment will be. If you don’t think you agree with the results, just ask your spouse or close friend what they think. Let me share a word of warning. Every personality type has a “dark side.” You know why? Because every one of us has a dark side. It doesn’t do us a “hill of beans” to take an assessment like this unless we can admit that we have room for growth. Some of us have a lot of room for growth, and I put myself on the top of that list!

I can’t wait to hear your results. In fact, I’d love it if you would share your results with me. Just email me what number the assessment said you are and whether you agree with it or not! If you share yours, I’ll share mine!

Coming up next time, we’ll talk about some next steps in this Emotional Intelligence Conversation!