Preparing Like the Lynx

Wow, it’s been too long! I hope this blog finds you well! It’s been quite a summer with lots to talk about as well as awesome things to come.

I have a tradition to go with Allison to a Minnesota Lynx game. The Lynx are the WNBA team here in Minnesota. We are big basketball fans, and it’s Allison favorite sport. The Lynx are one of the top teams in the WNBA and have two championship banners. (More than my favorite NFL team ;))

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This year we were blessed by some friends who are season ticket holders to get in early and sit on the court itself during the shoot around. It was right up close.

To watch some of the best female basketball players in the world go through their pregame drills and shooting was really fun. To be up so close and feel the speed, focus, and intensity that these girls warm up with before even playing gave a new appreciation to how serious they are about their jobs.

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They were always verbal and affirming, which is a favorite part for me about girls sports. Always calling out “nice shot,” “you got this,” “push yourself,” and so on. Always positive. Even the coaches bringing their energy up always talking, communicating with the players.

They do this before every game! Every game. Add on to that the practices and the workouts.

Can we learn from this when it comes to how we prepare for worship, mission trips, coffee with friends, small group time, youth nights, and quiet times?

It might sound silly but sometimes we just jump in to our faith events with out any prep of prayer or study. Sometimes we jump in not even expecting God to show up.

Can we be a source of encouragement to those who are coming in the door? They’ve traveled to the event. Can we tell them how glad we are that they came? Or maybe we can look forward to what God has for them.

Can we make a prayer list before we get to our prayer time or quiet time so as not to get scattered and feel like we are not sure what our time was about?

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The Lynx won big that night. They won as team.

Preparation matters.

What would your experience if you look for some prep before your next time of worship?

Just an idea… but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

God is good all the time!
Peder

Live Like You’re In The Game!

I love tournaments. The competition, energy, tension. Win and play again or lose and go home.

The NCAA March Madness is a favorite time for many sports fans because of that.

The underdog taking on the favorite hoping for that one game where they take down the giant. The player who shoots the free throws to tie the game with no time on the clock or, better yet, the last second shot from deep beyond the 3-point line to win the whole thing.

In moments like that there is so much emotion: one team rejoices and one team feels empty. You see 18-22 year olds jumping around like kids who got some free candy or having faces of tears like someone took the candy.

It’s one thing to watch it but to be a player in it is a whole different ball game (no pun intended 😉 ).

photo credit

photo credit: O via photopin (license)

Some times you hear players after the game talk about “If only I would have did this or not done that.”

I even hear players put the loss on their own shoulders saying they cost their team the game. Noble? Maybe. Hard on the heart? Definitely.

Think about the disciples. They thought they had suffered the worst loss ever when Jesus was crucified and died.

The One who called them from mundane life to experiences of healings, miracles, intense conflict with people who wanted to kill Him. The one they followed for three years of their lives seeing things they wouldn’t know how to put into words.

The One who said He loved them and the One they loved was gone in a sequence of events of brutality, fear, betrayal. It’s a cloud of hopelessness.

This feeling of defeat and blur of confusion was endured for three days.

This wasn’t a ball game. For these followers is what the very heartbeat of who they were thrown into tornado of havoc and spit out with no compassion.

Imagine what it would be like for a team who lost a heartbreaking game in the tournament to get a call to find out their loss had been reversed and they were now declared the winners!

How would that feel for those players that they were still in the tournament and still invited to compete and play in the next game?

Magnify that emotion by a million and then you might taste what the Mary, Martha, and the disciples felt when they found the tomb empty and Jesus reappeared to them.

What was happening in front of them was inconceivable: Jesus had come back to life in front of them. What was happening inside of them was even more inconceivable.

They were being told not to go home and curl up on the ground in defeat but instead all things had been reversed and they were still in the game!

We’ve been told the same thing.

That should cause anyone to jump, shout, dance, even shed tears but oh they are tears of joy!

Does it do that to you?

We just celebrated Easter Sunday, the most crucial day in the life of a Christian. It put us back in the game.

How do you live after that? How will you live this year?

The disciples lived the wake of the resurrection of Jesus like they never had before. They didn’t want to waste their second chance.

You? Me?

We’re still in the game through Jesus Christ. Not only that, the victory is already ours!

Don’t live like you wish you would have, should have, could have.

Play!!!

God is good.

Peder

When Choosing the Hard Way is Worth It

I’m a coach. It’s actually what I went to school for. I thought I was going to be a teacher and a coach. Yet for the last 20 years I have been a musician/songwriter/worship leader for a vocation. Can’t make it up. :)

It’s crazy how being a coach is kinda like being a worship leader/pastor. In both roles you get to pour into other peoples’ lives and try to do what ever you can to help them be successful. I love both of these roles.

I am a coach of girl’s varsity basketball at a Christian school. Doing that while being on the road doing concerts is a crazy experience, but my staff, family, and the school are very helpful to make it work. My daughter Allison plays for the team and so that is a deeper blessing to do this.

Entering this season we had a total of eight girls for the whole varsity team: two juniors, five freshmen, and an eighth grader. Only four of them played varsity last year.

We’re not big and not super fast. We have no real superstars. On the first day of practice, we all understood that every girl was going to have to learn nearly every position and be willing to do things she had not done before.

We would also need to be the most in-shape team we’ve ever been because with so few players, if we were going to win games, we would have to run the floor better than anyone.

One of the hardest things was learning to practice offense and defense. We had no one to play against. You need ten; we had eight. The assistant coaches would admirably stand in but it’s not the same.

We literally would learn during games because finally we had competition. Our timeouts during games were more about teaching and learning than motivation and adjustments.

The deck was stacked against these girls.

They are young, small in size, and small in numbers. Injuries would have to be non-existent, they’d have to learn on the fly during games, and they’d have to learn to play as five girls on the floor knowing what every position does in case they needed to play it.

It would take these girls self-discipline, mental toughness, physical stress, and, most of all, a will to not quit or say it’s not worth it.

We started our season on November 18th. We ended our season on March 7th.

The result? 20-4 Regular season and conference tournament champions!

Conference Champions! The joy of accomplishing the hard thing!

Conference Champions! The joy of accomplishing the hard thing!

Pretty fun I must tell you. When I heard them cheer, it was actually like all the tense air of the long practices, bumps and bruises, and mental fatigue just disappeared like fog being burned away by the sun.

What does this have to do with us? Let’s get excited about doing hard things this spring.

Our world is about shortcuts. It’s why the escalator is packed with people but the staircase is empty.

We’re looking for easier ways to get things done with less investment, less effort, and less risk.

“Get cash instantly.”
“Lose 20 pounds in one week!”
“Become a millionaire overnight!”
“Have it delivered tomorrow.”
“Quick assembly.”

Conveniences aren’t always a bad thing.

But there are experiences we’re missing out on because we’re looking for the easiest way rather than doing whatever it takes to do it right. Sometimes doing it right is hard.

“Indolence wants it all and gets nothing; the energetic have something to show for their lives.” Proverbs 13:4 The Message

I want to have something to show for my life. I bet you do too.

What is something hard you want to do?

Write a book? Run a marathon? Forgive? Make something from scratch? Invite the difficult co-worker to your church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments. It’s my way of cheering for you.

Who knows, even with the odds stacked against you, you might still come out conference champions.

God is good all the time!

Peder

Set The Temp!

Sorry I missed last week. No excuse just missed it. Might be the weather in Minnesota. Kind of a bummer. It’s like we have become the state of one season: wet, dreary, and cold. I still have hope.

It makes me think of my approach to each day’s challenges lately. I will confess I don’t think I have been taking on my days very well lately. I have found myself feeling like I’m on defense a lot and not moving forward. It’s not an inspiring way to wake up.

It’s not a great feeling to go places thinking a battle could come towards me, what the environment will be and, in a some of cases, what are people thinking of me.

Is there any thing worse than wondering if the whispers are about you and are they good?

Fear creeps in and then crud…defeat.

I love sports. Watching, playing, teaching, but especially coaching. I think it’s a lot being a pastor. You are given a group of people to teach skills, teach plays, inspire, hold accountable, send out, tend to injuries, send back out, make in-game adjustments, cheer on, make substitutes, and all along try to equip them for something bigger than themselves.

Maybe it’s too simple of an analogy but for our conversation, it’s workable.

When I coach my girls’ team, I often speak about trying to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.

The thermostat sets the temperature while a thermometer reflects the temperature.

As a player, you want your team to set the pace, tempo, flow, attitude of the game. You, of course, make some adjustments, but you really want to stick to your game plan.

If your opponent gets frustrated or takes cheap shots, you don’t want your team to do the same. You don’t want your team to respond negatively to refrees’ calls that don’t go your way.

Doing that you become thermometers because you are letting the other team influence how you play and what you do. A player who is a thermostat is not changed by her opponent. You stay to the course you have chosen.

Teams that stay thermostats get better, win more games, and walk away feeling they did their best.

Jesus says we are the light of the world! Not the mirrors of the world. Light changes how a room feels, what it looks like. A mirror just redirects whatever light there might be. If any light leaves, so does the purpose of the mirror.

What if we focus on being a thermostat rather than a thermometer?

That means when you get up in the morning you set the climate for your children rather than reflecting what they are like.

If your friends are crabby and gossiping, then you change that temp by getting their eyes focused on something else and not fueling the gossip with your own to be part of the group.

When you arrive at worship on Sunday, you become a worshipper rather than waiting to see if it’s your favorite songs or favorite pastor giving the sermon.

Didn’t Jesus say go into the world but not be of it? Thermostat or Thermometer?

Is it easy? Nope!

Does it always change? Not right away but I believe it will even if it takes a longer than you want.

Why? Because the Kingdom of God doesn’t lose.

The Holy Spirit who lives in us will not lose. If the Holy Spirit flows from us, it will do whatever it wants and it WILL be good! Because God is good!

It’s not about manipulation or being in control of people. It’s about living in the Kingdom of God which is all love, grace, truth, joy, acceptance, healing, and sanctuary. It’s about being Jesus to those who have forgotten or don’t even believe He is in the room.

You are that thermostat!

It’s not a calling because callings separate us into groups where some are and some are not. Instead it’s what Jesus made us to be in His death and resurrection: a thermostat.

I have to get better starting today. I can’t just try. In the words of Master Yoda “There is no try. Do or not do!”

That’s a thermostat.

Can you do?

Let me know.

God is good all the time!

Peder

The Star Still Shines

I love what I get to do. Not only do I get to help people love Jesus, I get to see His love in His children.

On Christmas Tour I got to spend time with a family of three brothers and a sister after one of the concerts.

The sister cherishes the time she gets to spend with her friends and has a great passion to help others. The brothers love to talk sports which, of course, I don’t mind at all.

Even though we cheer for different teams, we found common ground in our favorite players. It was fun to hear them share their wealth of knowledge of both basketball and football. I was even more impressed with how these three brothers took turns sharing their thoughts and stories, never trying correct each other or outdo each others comments.

For almost an hour, the four of us sat around the table sharing why we liked or didn’t appreciate certain players and teams. While the boys didn’t always agree, they respectfully listened to one another and each one got a fair chance to share his opinion.

photo credit

photo credit: CliffMuller via photopin cc

Throughout Advent we’ve been talking about light. Both literal light like on my farm and while I’m running and also figurative light like the light of traditions.

Those boys shine a different kind of light. They shine the light of Christ.

When the baby Jesus was born, the star over the manger could be seen all around. It’s how the magi found the Christ child. They saw the star, were drawn to it, and followed it until they found Jesus.

Light still points people to Jesus. Except now it shines in us.

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

If we’re walking in Him, then His light shines in each one of us in the way we live our lives, the choices we make, and the words we use.

It shines in the way we treat each other. From the convenience store clerk to the people living in our house.

His light is His presence.  If you are a follower of Christ, carrying His light is bringing His presence.

Chances are this Christmas you’re going to spend some time with your family. Maybe your family gets along great. Maybe you’re like my family and sometimes there’s some tension.

Sometimes shining the light of Christ isn’t the easy option. But it’s the right choice. The good choice. It’s what family does.

No matter which sports team you’re rooting for, root for one another.

Merry Christmas, my friends,

Peder

I Love March Madness!

I love March Madness. The time when high school and college basketball tournaments are in full swing. It’s when I take Allison and Ethan for a day to the girls and boys state basketball tourney and dream about what it might be like for them to play in it one day. It’s when I fill out my brackets for the NCAA Men’s Tournament and try to predict who will win. I watch my brackets and catch the games I can.

I love tournaments because of the whole lose and you’re done, win and you get to play again situation. Some of the intensity is heavy. Emotions run high, inspiring plays make memories, and the experience of the smaller, lower-seeded team upsetting the bigger or favorite to win team is a blast. I love the underdog, Cinderella moment.

Trying to pick a winner

Imagine if we knew the outcome. What would it be like to know your favorite team is going to win?

Would you still watch?

I would. Especially if I knew my team was beating a rival team. I know I would enjoy the game with less anxiety if we fell behind because I knew it was going to turn around to my team’s favor anyway.

Isn’t that what the life of being a follower of Jesus is suppose to be like? I mean, we know that because God is for us, nothing can stand against us (Romans 8:31b-32)  and the good work God began in us He said He will take to its completion! Check that it’s GOOD work! (Phil. 1:6)

I can live this life like I don’t know about the victory. I can treat my friends and family like I need to trust no one and gain control of any possible outcomes that may come my way. Man, is that foolish on my part.

If I remain in my Abba Father God and He remains in me, I get to experience what David or Esther or Gideon or Joseph felt, to mention a few.

Remember the war is won in Christ Jesus and by His grace we get to be part of the victory with Him.

I just need to live like it. The people close to me would appreciate it for sure. :)

God is good ALL the time!

Peder