Success In Our Failure

In 1997, Nike released Failure, a dramatized ad many consider to be one of the most inspirational of all time. It was the year Michael Jordan began his famous last season with the Chicago Bulls en route to a 6th NBA title and second 3-peat, adding merit to claims that he would be known as the greatest basketball player of all time.

In 1997, Nike released Failure, a dramatized ad many consider to be one of the most inspirational of all time.

failure over and over

It was the year Michael Jordan began his famous last season with the Chicago Bulls en route to a 6th NBA title and second 3-peat, adding merit to claims that he would be known as the greatest basketball player of all time. The ad shows MJ presumably walking into the stadium before the game. In his own voice, Michael narrates:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

What a picture of the triumph of the human spirit and the will to win, right? How motivational! Let’s go!

THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS

Just one little minor detail you forgot to mention in this beautiful failure-to-success narrative, though, Mike: You’re Michael Jordan.

Seriously. You were biologically, psychologically, and experientially predisposed to be the greatest of all time. Yes, you nurtured your gifts and worked through challenges, but your family of origin, your highly competitive temperament, your 6’6” frame and astounding 46” vertical leap—all made your athletic greatness imminent.

Said another way, I missed more than 9000 shots and more than 300 basketball games, and no one is talking about my basketball greatness. Truth be told, I was a decent basketball player, but no matter how much I wanted to be like Mike, it was never going to happen. If Michael Jordan was the measure of success for me, I failed.

Have you ever felt that way following Jesus? Like a failure? Like no matter how hard you try to be like Jesus you’ll never measure up?

CONTINUED FAILURE

Maybe you string together a few good decisions or have a run of good days, but then it happens. You pop off at someone in anger. You say that easy “yes” to the temptation you swore a forever “no” to. You took a shortcut at work or raised your voice at your spouse. You drank too much again, said too much again, ate too much again, spent too much again. And you feel like a failure.

You want to live like Jesus, be like Jesus, and do the kinds of things Jesus did, but when it comes down to it your wants are in conflict. Seems your other wants are winning.

Or maybe you’re at the stage in life where you’re not wrestling so much with sin as you are wrestling with God?

You go to church and even serve on a team, or you read your bible and even try to take notes… but it doesn’t seem to work. Or maybe you have the audacity to try hard things! Maybe you tried praying for the sick or talking to someone about Jesus and it didn’t go the way you thought it might. Do you feel like a failure, too? I know I feel that way sometimes. Is it possible to really become like Jesus?

PETER FAILED IN THE WORST WAY

Jesus had a disciple a lot like you and me, named Peter.

The whole point of being a disciple of a guy like Jesus was to become like Him and if any of the disciples had the potential to do it, it was Peter! He was courageous, enthusiastic, and responsive to Jesus’ promptings.

Yet time and again, Peter got it wrong. Peter tried to say the right thing and missed 9000 times and lost 300 debates, so to speak. No disciple tried as hard to be like Jesus and no disciple was more publicly rebuked by Jesus than Peter. Peter failed again and again and again. And that is why he succeeded. (Or, at least, that’s partly why).

Just before Jesus went to the cross, He told Peter he would fail in the worst way—he would deny him three times. Peter rebutted, “NO, JESUS! I WILL DIE WITH YOU, BUT I WILL NEVER DENY YOU!” (Matthew 26v35).

In the garden of Gethsemane, Peter (and his friends) failed to pray. Jesus did not fail, praying “Father, not my will, but yours be done.”

While Jesus was on trial, Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus did not deny His kingdom, so Herod mocked Him, dressing him in kingly garments.

As Jesus was being crucified, Peter did not keep his promise to die with Him. Jesus kept His promise to the Father, stretching out His hands to be crucified for our sins and in our place.

JESUS PROMOTES PETER

But then something amazing happened to Peter after Jesus was raised from the dead. Rather than condemning Peter for his failure, Jesus promotes Peter! With a threefold “feed my sheep” renewal, Jesus was giving Peter His job as a good shepherd (John 10).

Then look at the specific words Jesus used in John 21v18-19:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you want, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

Did you catch that? This language was an echoed inversion of Jesus’ own journey to the cross!

Peter: “Another will dress you”

Jesus: “clothed him in a purple cloak and a crown of thorns”

 

Peter: “Go where you don’t want to go”

Jesus: “not my will but yours”

 

Peter: “Stretch out your hands”

Jesus stretched out His hands when “they crucified him”

SUCCEss IN OUR FAILURE

Jesus was saying, “Peter, bring me your failures! You really can become like me if you will follow me!” Church history tells us Peter’s death was, in fact, an inversion of Jesus’. As an old man, Peter was crucified upside down on a cross.

FAILURE IS NOT THE END OF OUR STORY

As followers of Jesus, we will fail again and again. But failure is not the end of our story. If we will take our failures to Him and follow Him, He can and will redeem them. You and I really can become like Jesus. And that is the very definition of success.

Hurry Up and Slow Down

The surprising story of “hurry up” in scripture is to hurry up and slow down. When you feel pressure to deliver, “get there on time”, get results, and win at life, remember the real message behind that pressure is an invitation to be with Jesus.

My name is Lyndsey and I have the privilege of bringing the Bible to life through creative pieces at Church on the Move. A while back I was working on piece about “hurry,” and I wanted to say in BIG BOLD LETTERS:

JESUS
NEVER
SAID
HURRY UP

Image of the word Rest

The only problem with that piece was that … Jesus actually did say hurry up. ONE TIME:

JESUS
NEVER
SAID

HURRY UP
ONE TIME 😂

Needless to say, I didn’t make the piece but I did start sharing the story of Jesus and “HURRY UP”. Check it out below.

THE SURPRISING STORY OF “HURRY UP”

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus.
He was a chief tax collector and was rich.

Zacchaeus was seeking to see who Jesus was, but couldn’t see Jesus past the crowds because Zacchaeus was “small in stature”. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus because Jesus was about to pass by.

When Jesus came to the tree, He looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
So Zacchaeus hurried and came down and received Jesus joyfully into his home.

Later in the story, Zacchaeus says to Jesus,
“I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord,
and if I have cheated people on their taxes,
I will give them back four times as much!”

And Jesus responds,
“Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Of course, these words were not spoken in English. Jesus never said our ENGLISH phrase, “HURRY UP” so my original idea is still kind of right … right?! (Just joking). I think the context around it proves that Jesus does put pressure on us to hurry up but not in the way that we think. Hear me out…

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT ZACCHAEUS

1. He has a job as a tax collector
2. He’s probably good at that job because they made him a “chief tax collector”
3. He’s probably really good at that job because he’s become wealthy from it
4. He’s not a great a dude—he used his job to rob people
5. He’s short 😂

Although the ins and outs of his daily life were definitely very different from mine, I can’t help but see myself in Zacchaeus’ story.

Image of Lyndsey on Graduation Day

Here’s a picture of one of my college graduations … Note: the excessive amount of honor cords (and pride hahaha). It’s been several years (I won’t say how many) since that photo was taken, but I still have that same prideful tendency. I’m a high-achiever, I get stuff done.

Like Zacchaeus, if a story was written about me, I’d probably let my defining characteristics be:

1. My achievements
2. Also pretty short

“HURRY UP AND FINISH THAT PROJECT WITH EXCELLENCE FOR ME, LYNDSEY!”

My assumption is often that Jesus is asking me to hurry up and get stuff done for Him. If I’m being honest, I act like Jesus is saying, “HURRY UP AND FINISH THAT PROJECT WITH EXCELLENCE FOR ME, LYNDSEY!” And don’t get me wrong, I do believe there is an urgency with the Gospel. That we have a responsibility to share the qualities, characteristics, and stories of who Jesus is with people. But if I’m being real, real honest, most of the time I’m more concerned with sharing the qualities, characteristics, and stories of Lyndsey rather than Jesus. The main concern of my hurry is that I don’t lose my identity of “chief accomplisher.”

JESUS IS SPEAKING THE SAME WORDS TO YOU

If we look at the story again, Jesus is asking Zacchaeus to hurry up and do something. He’s asking him to hurry up and be with Him.

Jesus’ words to Zacchaeus are timeless and spoken over us daily… “Hurry up and slow down —be with me.”

When you feel that pressure to deliver, to “get there on time”, to get results, to win at life, remember the real message behind that pressure is an invitation to be with Jesus.

RECEIVING JESUS + GETTING TO KNOW HIM = SEEING HIM CHANGE YOU

Zacchaeus gladly receives Jesus into his home. It doesn’t say what happens during their time together but I like to imagine they had some food together, hung out a bit, and got to know each other. I imagine Zacchaeus talked to Jesus about the pressures of his life, shared about his family, and opened up about the areas that suck about life. I also imagine that Zacchaeus asked Jesus about His life, His job, His hobbies, and had conversations that all new friends have and found common ground.

Whatever the conversation, we know that what happened caused Zacchaeus to radically change his life. He says, “I used to rob people for a living, I cheated them on what they owed … now, I’ll give to people. I’ll give half my possessions to the poor and the people I robbed I’ll pay back 4x as much.”

I often look at stories in scripture and wonder how these followers of Jesus had such radical actions. I can’t imagine giving away half of my possessions. But in this story I see the formula for unlocking my heart to give generously, to live radically. The formula is this … receive Jesus gladly into your home + get to know Him = seeing Him change you.

WHATEVER HAS YOUR TIME HAS YOU

What would it look like to hurry up and slow down this week? To receive Jesus gladly? To let every moment (“spiritual” or not) be centered on Him? What I’ve seen in my own life is that whatever has my time has my heart—it has me. I’m not putting pressure on you to spend 45 minutes in prayer (if that’s what you feel like you need to do, then DO IT). I’m simply asking, if you’re already on your way home, why can’t Jesus come with you? If you’re already having dinner with the family, couldn’t He come too?

Every moment of your time can be centered on Jesus if you let it.

 

For more on slowing down check out the blog post ‘Rest Over Hurry’ by Amanda Torres.

The Victory of Jesus

When I think about victory, I have a vivid flashback to something I did A LOT when I was a kid.

Growing up, I would challenge my brother to races all the time, but I was so terrified of losing that right when the race began, I would stick out my arm and start pushing my brother back. I ran like this the entire race. I was a little bit older, taller, and stronger than him, so I could hold him back just enough to make sure I came out victorious every time. It’s silly to think about now, but for me, this was the true picture of victory as a kid.

What do you picture when you hear the word victory? Slow down for a minute and really think about it. Do you see when your team won the championship game? A military general who successfully led his troops in battle? The climax of your favorite action movie?

There are countless scenarios that might come to mind for you, but I would bet that the scene in your mind doesn’t include someone dying.

Especially when looking at the story of Jesus, it’s easy (and very common) to see his death on the cross as a form of defeat. The cross is often portrayed as nothing more than a horrible, albeit necessary, loss, an event that simply paved the way for the victory of the resurrection.

>> But what if the gospels are showing us something different is happening with the cross?

>> What if, rather than losing by dying, Jesus is actually winning?

AN UPSIDE-DOWN KINGDOM

The Jews at the time of Jesus were hoping for a victory. They knew that God had promised them freedom from oppression, yet there they were, oppressed and occupied by the Romans. This shaped the view they had of their promised Messiah (a royal title that means “anointed one”). They took the prophecies of a coming king to be very literal; they wanted an actual king to sit on the throne and rule in Israel, saving them from the control of Rome. But throughout Jesus’s time on earth, he was annoyingly silent about Rome. In fact, he refrained time and again from starting any sort of political revolt against Caesar. Instead, he talked constantly about an alternative political reality: the Kingdom of God. And the way he talked about the Kingdom surprised everyone, disciples included.

In one specific interaction found in Mark 10, Jesus’ disciples began fighting over who would be second and third in command next to Jesus (see how they’re thinking of a powerful, political leader?). He responded to them saying, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)

THE SON OF MAN CAME NOT TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE

Jesus is making some bold claims here! This is a radically different picture from what was expected. Jesus said that people who follow him shouldn’t be focused on amassing power or control. (You can read more about The Unexpected Power of Jesus here.) He took their ideas of a top-heavy, pyramid-shaped authority structure and literally turned it upside-down, showing them that it’s not about climbing the ladder to be the person at the top, it’s about going down to the lowest person and becoming their servant.

CORONATION OF A KING

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a big coronation of a nation’s king or queen. But if you look up pictures or videos from coronations past, you’ll see some key elements shared throughout different cultures and times. In almost every instance, the king or queen will be wearing an ornate robe, they’ll have a crown placed on their head, and the crowd will shout an acclamation to the new ruler, bowing before them. Then, to mark the moment, there is usually an announcement presented to the people of the land, a banner or plaque, even a headline in the newspaper in modern times.

Think of the similarities of Jesus’ crucifixion compared to coronations of kings and queens throughout history; the soldiers “put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’…Falling on their knees they paid homage to him…The written notice of the charge against him read: the King of the Jews.” (Mark 15:17-19, 32). What’s going on here? Why would Mark include these details? His descriptive portrayal is leading us to see that Jesus’ experience on the cross was his coronation as king of this upside-down Kingdom.

THE VICTORY OF THE CROSS

It’s interesting that what we would normally view as a negative event or a loss, God claims as a defining victory for his kingdom. The Bible says Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). Jesus took his rightful place as king, flipping the pyramid he “humbled himself in obedience to God even dying a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus’ death was the ultimate victory with a larger lasting impact than what the disciples were able to see.

JESUS’ DEATH WAS THE ULTIMATE VICTORY

They wanted Jesus to bring victory over Rome through military or political power, climaxing in him being crowned King of Israel. Jesus wanted to bring victory over evil, Satan, and death through sacrificial love, climaxing in him being crowned King of everything.

As evidenced by the cross, these instructions from Jesus of service and upside-down living lead us to a place where God achieves victory in remarkably surprising ways. When you are in the middle of a painful season, hoping and praying for a victory, I promise you the best thing you can do is surrender to God and serve those around you. If Jesus, the Son of God and King of everything, humbled himself and became a servant, how much more should we do the same?

And you’ll see your victory come. It might look different from how you pictured it, but I guarantee it will be so much better because “(God) can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us” (Ephesians 3:20). Trust God, our loving and gracious Father, and victory will come to pass.

Why Do We Give? by Chris Turner

If you’ve grown up in church, you might take it for granted. If you haven’t grown up in church, you might wonder what this whole giving thing is all about. What is behind the heart of generosity and why is it essential to the church?

If you’ve grown up in church, you might take it for granted. If you haven’t grown up in church, you might wonder what this whole giving thing is all about. What is behind the heart of generosity and why is it essential to the church?

It doesn’t make much sense on the surface. Why would I just giveaway my hard-earned money and then to hear it’s not just a little, but the church wants 10% of it? Wait, I have debt, kids to feed, a car payment, a mortgage, and the list for many of us goes on and on. Why would God ask me to give to this church on a regular basis when I struggle to make ends meet?

Why would God ask me to give away a portion of money I’ve rightfully earned and worked hard for?

Perhaps, you’ve asked yourself these questions. Maybe you’ve wrestled with what happens after you give, perhaps you find yourself in financial setback after setback, or just simply curious on why we as a church choose to give each time we gather.

The reality is the concept of generosity doesn’t make much sense in our world. As a business school grad, one of the very first things I learned in Intro to Finance is that money is more valuable in my hands then it is anyone else’s. Why? Because I can invest it to make more money! So why then, each week, does the church ask me to give away money?

Why should a Christ follower live a generous life?

Jesus was not oblivious to these questions or concerns. In fact, when Jesus addresses anxiety in Matthew 6 he refers to those things which we need money to purchase to survive. As he says:

Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Now, I know upon reading that it might be easy to think: “Yeah, a lot easier said than done!”

How do I really stop being anxious when I have all these needs that must be met? Yet, what verse 32 says to us is key: “and your Heavenly Father knows you need them.” We often can feel that God doesn’t know we have the real needs we have. Our day-to-day anxiety is one of the biggest things that takes our focus off of God. This is why Jesus says in the previous verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Three Thoughts on Why We Give

We Serve A Generous God

God did not withhold anything from us when he created. Following creation, he gave mankind dominion over the earth to rule. Everything that exists: the phone or tablet you read this on, the car you drive, the food you eat, all are here because of God’s creation. God liberally supplied the raw material for everything we see and use today. Yet his generosity, was not limited to physical resources, but extended to himself and within the Godhead.

He did not withhold when we needed a savior, rather the bible describes him as one who “gave” his only begotten son. So, we as believers live a generous life because He is generous.

●  We Belong to A Generous Community

Generosity is evidence as fruit of heart change and commitment to follow Christ in community. Radical generosity marked the early church in Acts 4. As scripture tells us:

Acts 4:32-33 (NIV)

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. In fact, the text says that people even sold land and gave the proceeds to meet the needs of the church!

And what was the result of a generous church?...

33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We give in a community so that the community of faith may be a witness to the gospel!

●  We Live A Generous Life

Now unless we think this has no personal implications, the Bible is not without promise of impact when it comes to your own life. We find the lengthiest passage in scripture on generosity in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 9:7-11 NIV

6 “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

We give thanksgiving to God when we model a generous life! So, we freely lay down our possessions, for Christ, freely laid down his life!

How to Read the Bible by Casey Shirley

When I was growing up, I thought I knew how to read the Bible. I would open it up to somewhere near the end because someone told me the most important stuff was in the short books near the back and memorized verses, took notes, listened to sermons, and I knew all the right Old Testament stories. 

When I was growing up, I thought I knew how to read the Bible. I would open it up to somewhere near the end because someone told me the most important stuff was in the short books near the back. My checklist for bible literacy consisted of memorizing verses, taking notes, listening to sermons, and knowing all the right Old Testament stories.

In fact, everything I needed to know about God and life was found within the pages of Scripture, right? But all too often, I felt like I was hitting a dead end. How did the 80% of the Bible I wasn’t reading relate to the 20% I was reading the majority of the time? And when I did try to read other parts of the Bible it was confusing… and weird. 

Finally, I realized that I struggled to read the Bible because no one ever really taught me how.

Until, that is, I was a freshman in college and I joined a ministry on my college campus. Those four years transformed the way I engaged with Scripture and brought the depth and gravity to my Bible reading that I longed for. 

Here’s the thing, what I learned wasn’t a secret method or incredibly profound. In fact, it was simple… just like what I’m going to share here. But these simple adjustments to the way I read my Bible have made all the difference. 

What is the Bible, really? 

Before we talk about how to read the Bible we need to talk about what the Bible is. First of all, it’s not just a book, it’s actually a library of 66 books. Long before the printing press that gave us our first bound manuscripts (aka books), the Bible was comprised of separate scrolls that were mostly read aloud in community. Each book of the Bible has a specific literary genre, or style of writing, but every book presents a unified story that leads to Jesus. You’re going to want to know what genre you’re reading before you start! 

You could think about it this way, you wouldn’t read a riveting spy novel the same way you’d read a book on time management. In the same way, you wouldn’t read Psalms the way you’d read Genesis. But before you get overwhelmed, let me encourage you, knowing what you’re reading is going to be one of the biggest keys to getting the most out of your time in Scripture. 

Before You Begin

Before you get started reading any book of the Bible, there are a few questions that you should be asking:

● In what style is the book written? (Is it prose, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, historical narrative, or apocalyptic literature?)

● Who wrote it? 

● Who was it written to? (Keep in mind, these are ancient texts written to an ancient people!)

● When was it written?

● Where does the book fall within the unified story of Scripture? 

In addition to this, the simplest way to do this is to ask, “Is this before, during, or after the earthly ministry of Jesus?” As you learn more about the historical setting of the Bible you’ll begin asking more specific questions, but this is a great place to start! 

TIP: The Bible Project has short overview videos for every book of the Bible. So check out these before you start reading and you’ll know the answers to all the questions I’ve listed above!

Old Testament Books
New Testament Books

Bible Reading Basics

Now, it’s time to start reading! Because of the way many of us have learned to read our Bibles we often start our scripture reading by asking “What does this mean to me?” That’s because we want the Bible to make a real difference in our real lives, and that’s good! But if we’re not careful, we’ll come to the Scriptures with us as the central figure of the story rather than God. The Bible is all about God revealing Himself to humanity in His Son Jesus. It’s all about Him, what He has done, what He is doing, and how He is calling us to participate! 

Below I’ve listed three simple steps to Bible reading (and Bible study) that are going to help us keep this in mind.

• COMPREHENSION – WHAT DOES IT REALLY SAY?

Slow down. Take your time. Make observations. Ask questions. 

TIP: If you want to dive a little deeper consider printing out a passage, double-spaced, with wide margins, and mark it up! Circle, highlight, draw arrows to connected thoughts, write your questions and observations out to the side.

• INTERPRETATION – WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN? 

Put yourself in the shoes of the author and the original audience. Interpret the passage with their culture and circumstances in mind. 

TIP: A question you should ask yourself is, “Would my interpretation of this passage make sense to the original audience?” If your answer is “no”, you probably want to do some more digging!  

• APPLICATION – HOW SHOULD I RESPOND? 

Finally, ask God to show you how to apply what you’re learning through each passage. He will lead you! 

TIP: Pray! Before, during, and after your reading time. The Holy Spirit is there with you, to help you think and act more like Jesus as you spend time in the Word! 

If you’re having trouble knowing where to start then I would recommend starting with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). These are four separate accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. 

Or you can jump into a reading plan! Here are a few you might want to check out:

M’Cheyne One Year Reading Plan
Bible Project One Story That Leads to Jesus
Bible In One Year with Nicky Gumbel 

Our friends at the Bible Project did a series of podcasts and videos on how to read your Bible and it’s fantastic! You can find it here: 

BIBLE PROJECT: HOW TO READ YOUR BIBLE

Some days you might read a few verses and some days you might read a few chapters, and that’s okay! In fact, the quality of your Bible reading is more important than the quantity. If you apply just a few of the things I’ve suggested above you’re only going to grow in your love and knowledge of the Bible! Happy reading, friends!

A Blog by Casey Shirley

Check out another blog from our team next: What is Discipleship?

What is Discipleship? by Lee Martin

I love to climb mountains.

It’s been a passion of mine since I was a teenager. A couple years ago, my best friend and I got to climb one of our dream summits, Mount Rainier, in Washington state. Mt. Rainier is one of North America’s premier mountain climbs, in part, because the whole upper half

I love to climb mountains. 

It’s been a passion of mine since I was a teenager. A couple years ago, my best friend and I got to climb one of our dream summits, Mount Rainier, in Washington state. Mt. Rainier is one of North America’s premier mountain climbs, in part, because the whole upper half of the mountain is covered by a glacier. Ice that’s hundreds of feet thick and continually moving at a few inches per day down the mountain. Cracking and splitting as it creeps along.

A mountain

Needless to say, this climb was not a simple “walk up.” It required specific skills, new tools, and an experienced guide. The danger of sliding off the side of the mountain, or falling into a crevasse (a huge crack in the ice), or freezing to death in the sub-freezing temperatures were real concerns! But that didn’t stop us from embarking on the adventure anyway. Why? Because we longed to see and experience things that simply cannot be discovered down in the flat lands. When I’m in the mountains I feel fully alive! This is a picture of discipleship.

Discipleship is just another word for following Jesus. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and the followers of a rabbi are called disciples. A disciple is just a learner, an apprentice, someone adopting the ways of another. That’s what it means to follow Jesus, BUT there is so much more to it than just that. 

Discipleship is an adventure! 

Our mission at Church on the Move is to introduce people to the real Jesus. Why is that so important to us? Because when you meet the real Jesus you discover the real you. It’s the path to life, the capital “L” Life that Jesus offers. 

There is an enemy that comes only to kill and to steal and to destroy. But I have come that you might have life. And have it to the full.” — John 10:10

The most important element of climbing on the glacier of Mt. Rainier was our rope team. 3 climbers connected behind our guide by a long rope, spaced about 20ft apart. The purpose of the rope was safety. More accurately, survival. If one of us fell in a crevasse or off a sheer face of the mountain the other 3 could quickly drop to the ice with our ice-axes buried under our weight and stop the one who was falling. Without the rope team one small misstep could be fatal. Connected together and following our guide we were secure. Well, more secure.

Unfortunately, life itself is not without the danger of tragedies and trials. And following Jesus is not a guarantee we will be spared such hardships. But Jesus is a trustworthy guide. He teaches us new skills we will need along the way, offers us useful tools that ensure safe passage, leads us forward and upward, to places we could never discover on our own. But he warns us of the danger of trying to travel alone. Success on this journey demands having the support, encouragement, and security of a “rope team.” Those who willingly connect themselves to us, and us to them, no matter were the Jesus-journey leads. 

Sometimes the way is steep and the path is narrow as a disciple, but the way of Jesus leads to unbelievably wonderful things to see and experience that we would never discover if we chose not to follow. That’s what discipleship is all about, stepping out in faith and following. 

This is the incredible invitation of Jesus. The invitation to come fully alive!

He is the one calling and we must go! Everyone comes to their discipleship journey from different places. Some come with lots of knowledge and experience, some come with none at all. The invitation is still the same no matter where you are in your life. No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been walking with Jesus your whole life, we believe there is more Jesus has for you. For all of us. But how? 

Here are four elements of discipleship:

We don’t believe it’s complicated. Following Jesus just means taking small steps with Jesus while being “roped up” or connected to others. We’re not saying it’s always easy, but it’s simple. And we believe the scriptures have given us a clear discipleship path, or way of following Jesus that can be explained through 4 equally important elements. 

1. Discipleship is KNOWING GOD

No one can believe what they do not understand. And so at Church on the Move we value teaching and training. When our minds are enlightened to the things of God our hearts follow in obedience and integrity. So we will always be pursuing a richer knowledge of God and His Word and inviting others along the way so that we can have a richer, deeper experience in life. 

This is why we preach the Gospel in our weekend services, why we have high quality Bible studies taught by amazing communicators, why we encourage daily reading of God’s Word and praying and listening for His voice. 

2. Discipleship is GROWING IN FREEDOM

All of us are hindered by our past. Sins and failures, abuses and wounds, pain, disappointment, and brokenness. These are the hallmarks of being human and none of us are immune. But Jesus is a rescuer. He meets us in our brokenness and heals us, sets us free, and makes us whole. And He does this through His church. The church is the community where healing and freedom are discovered, together. 

Discipleship happens in community. This is why we gather in groups, why we build real relationships that go beyond the surface, why we care for one another, and build one another up. This is why we connect ourselves to Jesus and each other so we can successfully keep moving forward toward more freedom and life.

3. Discipleship is DISCOVERING PURPOSE

God didn’t just save us from something, He saved us for something. And every experience, desire, gift, or ability you’ve been given is whispering something about the purpose of your life. We believe this process of discovery happens best in community and leads to fulfillment and significance. Howard Thurman was an influential pastor in America during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. He said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come fully alive. Because what the world needs most is people who have come fully alive.” Discovering our purpose brings us meaning, but it also brings life to those around us. 

This is why we offer classes and courses on discovering your spiritual gifts, understanding your unique personality, and narrowing in on your most meaningful areas of service and contribution. This is why we believe that EVERYONE in the family of the church has a unique role to play and when we discover it, everyone wins.  

4. Discipleship is GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The journey of following Jesus was never meant to find its fulfillment in us. Jesus’ whole message was wrapped up in his words from Mark 10, “The the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. And to give his life as a ransom for many.” To follow Jesus is to put others first. To make a tangible and meaningful impact on the world around us. And to continue to introduce people the real Jesus. He is, after all, the greatest thing we have to offer anyone. Real disciples live and love in such a way that it results in others becoming real disciples too.

This is why we serve and volunteer at church and in our communities. We believe the real Jesus ought to make a real difference in the real world. And we are called to be his hands and feet. This is why we give of our resources. Not only because it demonstrates our trust in God for our financial needs, but because it is used to bring good news to people in Tulsa and all over the world.  

The invitation to follow Jesus is a life-changing adventure. It involves every part of us and Jesus asks for nothing less. He came to rescue, to heal, to save, to set free, and to offer life to the full! We take that very seriously at Church on the Move because we want everything He has to offer. And we want that for you too. 

Jesus is calling, and we must go. Come, go with us. 

A Blog by Lee Martin

Read our next blog: Have you met the real Jesus?

About Church

Maybe you know this… maybe you don’t but In Motion is the content platform of Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Pastor Seth Swindall

We put together the church blog category for content related to our church and help answer questions our readers might have about who we are and what we do.

A family of churches in Oklahoma

We are a family of churches with one mission: introducing people to the real Jesus. What does that mean? Well, there are multiple Church on the Move churches in the Tulsa area. We have a church in Broken Arrow, a church in Tulsa, one in Midtown Tulsa, one West of downtown, and we even have two churches located inside two correctional centers in Oklahoma. We know, it’s a lot … but it’s also really cool.

Why all the churches?

We think God has always chosen to work through communities through groups of people committed to Him and each other. For several years, we had Church on the Move campuses around the city that would play a video feed from our “main” campus as their church service. But in 2019, our Lead Pastor, Whit George (you’d know him from the Spirit In Motion podcast), felt like God wanted to do something more in these campuses. He felt like God was saying, THESE SHOULD BE FULL FLEDGED CHURCHES. So, we decided to bring on pastors and leaders whose jobs would be centered around bringing hope to the community.

So, no more videos?

That’s right! No more videos. Each of our churches are … well … churches—with pastors that teach and meet with people, worship teams, and volunteers that are all live, in-person making a difference in the communities they’re in. 

So, with four churches, two prison locations, and a K-12th grade school,  we’re ready to keep making big difference in the Tulsa area, and we’d love for you to be a part of it.

To sum up, Our Church In Motion blog answers our readers’ most common questions about Church on the Move. Questions like,What do you believe about discipleship? Why tithe? Or what are your safety plans? We hope you enjoy the blogs! If you have any questions, email us at info@churchonthemove.com.

COVID: How Has Your Church Changed?

COVID-19 has been such a valuable opportunity for the church to step up in a hurting world but it has also presented new challenges. The question at the top of our mind has been: How do we continue to be the church and provide in-person services safely?

We developed a comprehensive plan in partnership with our local health department to make sure we are doing our very best to keep our in-person gatherings safe. Our plan was not only approved and supported by the health department, but has been shared as an example for other organizations to follow.

There are three main measures that can help our church function safely: social distancing, masks, and disinfecting high traffic and touch areas. At Church on the Move, we have adapted these core strategies to several different ministry areas of our church.

Here’s how we’re practicing these at Church on the Move:

Social Distancing

Social distancing is one of the easiest and most cost-effective safety measures we can take for our church. One way we’ve made this easier to accomplish is by adding additional service times to allow for more room in each service. We encourage at-risk members or anyone who may have come in contact with COVID-19 to attend online at COTM.live.

We believe there is something powerful about gathering together in-person to worship our God and make space for community. For those opportunities and people who are not at high risk themselves or exposing others to COVID-19, gatherings can be conducted safely by keeping families six feet apart as much as possible. Those who live in the same household can stand or sit together in the auditoriums but all rows are spaced six feet apart to help naturally provide the recommended distance. We recommend leaving a few seats open between you and another family.

Masks

The second thing that helps keep our members and staff safe in our church ministries is wearing masks. Masks reduce the number of germs you spread through your mouth and nose if worn correctly. If everyone in our building wears masks, especially in the lobbies and hallways, it will reduce the chances of spreading infection. We see masks as a way to show love to our neighbors so we happily oblige.

Disinfecting

The third safety method that our church has employed to keep everyone safe is regularly disinfecting all high traffic and high touch surfaces in our building. Our goal is to eliminate the spread of germs between services. We have spaced our service times out during this season to ensure that our teams have ample time to thoroughly clean the building between them.

And of course, we do not allow staff or members to attend ministries in person when experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Kids & Students

All of the policies above and more apply to our kids and students environments as well. Volunteers will always be wearing masks (unless they are on stage and at a safe distance from others) and social distancing as much as possible to help keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have also transitioned to a touch-free checkin process and recommend that only one parent pick up and drop off kids before and after service.

Small Groups

COVID-19 has provided incredible opportunities to innovate within our small group ministry. One of the ways we have adapted our small groups is by creating virtual groups that meet over Zoom or other online avenues, which cuts down on the risks of meeting in person altogether. All small group leaders for our in person groups have been equipped with best practices for making sure these gatherings are still safe and sanitary. Ways they do that include seating that allows for social distancing, avoiding community food-sharing, only serving individual bottled drinks, and wearing masks.

FAQ: What Kind of Safety Plans Do You Have?

Safety is something we take seriously at Church on the Move.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought new attention to health and cleaning standards. Natural disasters continue to require us to have emergency plans. Violence in public spaces has sensitized us to the need for safety plans around worship or ministry disruptions.

We sat down with three Church on the Move staff members who ensure the safety of our church community to discuss what we do to keep everyone safe: Security Director Jon Cozad, Executive Pastor of Operations Aaron Davis and Facilities Director & Compliance Officer Steven Torres.

“Our team does a phenomenal job. They are well-trained, go through rigorous training, and work efficiently with all of our locations. It takes a lot of teamwork, but our team is great.”

— Steven Torres, Compliance Officer

COVID-19 Standards

The year 2020 brought about a lot of changes all over the world. One of the most significant was the change in health and cleaning standards in response to the pandemic. We take the safety measures related to this issue seriously and have evaluated every step of our gatherings and ministries to ensure that our people are as safe as possible.

We are following all the latest information from public health officials and local government authorities and continue to implement their recommendations to ensure a safe, healthy environment for all.

Emergency Exit Plans

If you’ve ever lived in Oklahoma during the spring, you know you have to have an inclement weather and natural disaster plan in place. In case of any such disaster, our church has emergency exit and sheltering plans in place, including tornado shelters strategically placed throughout the property. Our staff has been trained on leading anyone in the building to safety during such an emergency. In the case of inclement weather, we cancel our regularly scheduled services to allow everyone to stay home and be safe.

Church Security and Active Shooter Strategies

We understand how important it is to have a plan in case someone comes to church with violent intentions. We hope we never have to use it but we have a plan for in place if we receive word of a person with violent intent and we also have trained security at all of our locations to help guide you and your family to safety.

Background Checks

Every organization is vulnerable to predators who seek to serve with the intent to abuse or harm them. At Church on the Move, we run full background checks on every employee we hire in addition to an extensive interview process and vetting references. In addition, any volunteer that works with children is also background checked on a regular basis and must abide by a code of conduct.

These are just a few of the basic safety procedures we have implemented to keep you safe. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us. Our goal is to eliminate any distractions you have from encountering God when you’re on our campus. Together, we can keep our gatherings safe and continue to welcome people who are in search of the real Jesus.

 

FAQ: What Are Small Groups?

If you are interested in small groups, you might be looking for community or a way to get connected.

The best first step to getting plugged in is to attend Next Move. Next Steps Pastor Priscilla Shields says, “Next Move is the on-ramp to the church.”

If you walk into any of our churches for the first time, it may feel overwhelming. You may curious:

● What is your mission and vision?
● What do you believe about kids and students and small groups and outreach?
● How do I get connected?

“Those are things if you did not have Next Move, you would have to have 50-60 conversations with different people,” she continues. “We believe Next Move is the on-ramp to get people connected to the church family.”

After Next Move, a great step you might take is to join a small group. Small groups are the quickest way to get plugged into church. They help you grow your faith, get connected, and create community.

“Our mission is introducing people to the Real Jesus.”

— Lyndsey Vigil, Marketing and Communications Director

Small group ministries put the personal in personal growth.

While Sunday morning sermons inspire you to take your next steps in your faith, small groups help you figure out what those steps are, and help hold you accountable to take them. Rather than getting teaching from someone you only know from a distance, you learn together with a group of people who know you personally.

If you have never been in a group like this before, or if you are a very private person, it may feel challenging to participate in these ministries. That is completely normal! Ministry feels very personal, because it helps you grow in new ways. Small groups are not designed to change people overnight. They work slowly and steadily to bring about lifelong change.

Marketing and Communications Director Lyndsey Vigil said, “Our mission is introducing people to the Real Jesus, so we put together a curriculum called Real Jesus that our lead pastor wrote with a few other pastors. It is a 10-week curriculum meant for a small group. We could have written a book just on meeting the Real Jesus, but we believe so much in community that we made it into a small group curriculum instead.”

Smaller groups are more flexible.

Some meet on Saturday afternoon at a restaurant. Others meet on a weeknight at someone’s house over dinner. Many of them meet in coffee shops or restaurants, or even break rooms over lunch in workplaces. Small groups do not have set times or places they have to meet. They can meet anywhere and as often as the group members agree upon, although the groups that meet weekly often experience the most spiritual growth.

Kids on the Move’s Ifeanyi Bellamy, formerly head of small groups at the Tulsa location, said small groups play a huge role in helping us find community. “Our small groups that we offer are all about what is it that you do?” he says. “It’s about you finding community. There are several different types of small groups: virtual, Bible study,  bike riding–all of them have different points. If you’re trying to help you grow in your relationship with God or understand the Bible, the Bible Study small group will be the best one for you. Or if you want to connect with others, try a sports group or motorcycle group. If you’re looking to do life with people though, a small group is great option for you.”

Small groups help form deeper relationships.

Relationships last longer when formed in small groups. Time spent together on a regular basis is an important factor in forming strong relationships. It makes a difference what you do with that time though. Recreation is helpful, but the strongest bonds form when people serve together and share their personal struggles. The Bible tells us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Small groups help people do that within healthy boundaries. Those boundaries are important because that kind of care can be overused and abused when it all falls on one person’s shoulder.

Discipleship happens better in small groups.

Discipleship happens in relationships. Author, speaker and researcher Ed Stetzer found that 79% of churches in the United States and Canada consider small groups to be very important to the ministry of the church. Transformation happens through relationships, not just by passing on information. Church small groups act as a training ground in discipleship. Also, they show people how to maintain healthy Christian relationships, and take that discipleship training home to their families, workplaces, and the rest of the world.

If you are not in a small group, contact us for more information about how to get connected. Don’t miss out on the best way to grow in your faith and build lifelong relationships with our church.