Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learning from the Spurs Way

"We don't talk about MVP awards. We don't talk about any awards," Gregg Popovich said, when asked if Kawhi Leonard should be MVP. The buzz was all about Kawhi and his amazing late game heroics in the Spurs come-from-behind victory over the Houston Rockets. "We don't talk about championships. We just play the game. Everybody tries to do what they can to make the team better, and whatever records or awards or wins that come, that's the way it is," Coach Pop exclaimed to reporters.

The San Antonio Spurs do things differently in the NBA. While most of the teams pride themselves in having flashy players and promote their players as MVP candidates, the Spurs intentionally keep out of the limelight and focus on one thing: playing their best.  Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs soft spoken forward certainly has risen to become one of the top players in the league and a Most Valuable Player candidate this year.  But you won't hear coach Gregg Popovich promoting any Spur for MVP.

What is refreshing in this world that keeps detailed statistics of most everything and celebrates records of every sort, comparing individuals and teams, the Spurs don't care about any of it. They focus on each player doing their best for the good of the team. Their attitude is that we can't control all outcomes. The only real thing we can control is our effort. When we focus on effort and execution, then we can let go of our need to control the outcome.

I'm reminded of the scripture in Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. When we focus on doing our best for Jesus, we can always be content with the outcome even if we come in second. Sure we want to win but our world doesn't fall apart when we don't.

Our true measuring stick should be our own capacity to excel. There will be others who are naturally better and we will not win every contest or challenge in life. But if we do our best for God, we can always hold our heads high and be encouraged to press on.  The awards may or may not come on this earth, but far greater awaits us in heaven.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Study shows Christians influence in the U.S. declining rapidly. Is the church responsible?

A new survey released last week revealed just 10 percent of Americans truly have a biblical worldview, despite four times that amount believing that they do. *The American Culture and Faith Institute, headed by pollster George Barna, interviewed approximately 6,000 people from the general population and in church leadership in early February.
The ACFI survey determined that only 10 percent of the 6,000 surveyed answered the 40 question survey regarding biblical principles and lifestyle in a way consistent with a biblical worldview (way of understanding the world).

Using 40 questions on both belief and behavior, 20 on each, the researchers determined that someone with a biblical worldview answered positively 80% or 16 out of 20 questions in both belief and behavior categories.  A large percentage of those who claimed to have a Biblical world view answered questions that would not be consistent with the Bible.

For example, among the views adopted are a belief that people are basically good (74 percent) and having faith matters more than what faith a person has (66 percent). Other indicators that are consistent with a biblical worldview include a belief that moral truths are unchanging and absolute; that God created man in a miraculous event (not through evolution); and the Bible is totally accurate in all the life principles it teaches.

The survey indicated that the younger an adult is, the less likely they are to have a biblical worldview. Among adults 18 to 29 years old – commonly referred to as Millennials – just 4% were described as having and living out a biblical worldview. The number rose to 7% among those in the 30-to-49 age bracket; doubled to 15% among the 50-to-64 year olds; and peaked at 17% among those 65 or older.

The study gives a bleak view of the future of Christianity in America and indicates that our churches are failing to disciple. We may be drawing crowds but the big question is how many of those that are attending church are really being discipled?  Can you disciple a person who comes to an hour service an average of twice a month?

One of the problems Christians face is the declining belief that we are responsible for sharing our faith. (1 Peter 3:15).  As many as 25% of the most theologically conservative pastors did not embrace this statement.  Perhaps we are being silenced by the wave of culture which demands that faith is only personal and must be kept to oneself while trumpeting their secular worldview to anyone.

The truth is that the secular world is discipling 24/7 through education, government, media, arts and business.  The two mountains of influence that Christians have, religion and family are having less and less of an impact while education, government, media and arts (film and entertainment) are increasing rapidly. This is nothing new but perhaps this is the greatest challenge the church faces today because we have been swimming up stream in a rapid current for many years and falling further and further behind. This survey helps us take our heads out of the water long enough to see just where we are in the river of culture.

I’d love to hear from pastors and laymen.  As a pastor and follower of Christ, what can you do to counter the secular current of ideas and worldview?

*The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians to engage in cultural transformation, in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual political candidates or parties.


How to choose the right path

“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and ...