Gumption is a Sacred Family Value

Gumption is the character to commit and complete. It’s the essence of self-leadership in requiring something of yourself without excuse.

Everything worthwhile is an uphill battle. Luckily, God has given us the necessary gifts, talents, and abilities to win. We only need to exercise gumption to get the better life God has invited us to.

And when we succeed, we celebrate!

Striving to be Authentic

In our families, we’re never going to be perfect, but we can strive to be authentic.

Being authentic means to have consistency between what we say we value and what we practice.

For example, when we say, “God is our sovereign source of life, and the one on whom we depend,” we need to live it. We can do this by finding our significance and security from God and not in others. When we trust others to fill the void, they will eventually fail. We need to look to God and lean on Him for emotional wholeness.

Valuing Family Togetherness

God designed families to stick together.

In marriage, we die to our single life in order to look forward to being together. This means that time together becomes the default, rather than time apart.

When Kevin and Marcia got married, their single lives had to die. They made “together” a sacred value in their family. Every effort has been made to form their family to be together as a default habit.

Build Sacred

4 things that keep a family together: 

  • Build Solid
  • Build Sacred
  • Solve Calendar
  • Solve Conflict

Build Sacred: Since Jesus is at the center; we set our hearts and minds on things above. New things become Sacred (holy set apart). We “die” to old things we once valued and value new things we once dismissed.

What is sacred in your family?

  • Togetherness
  • God First
  • Authenticity
  • Gumption
  • Bless Others

Homework: Define what is sacred in your family (5 to 7 things).

  • Ideas: Use today’s teaching; use the 10 commandments (Exodus 20); or use the “Value Exercise Cards” to start the conversation
  • Note: Perhaps what becomes “sacred” is distinct at different stages of life; dating, married, with young kids, with teenagers; empty nesters.

How Families Can Withstand Pressure

Two different families may come from the same mold, but we won’t know the difference between the two until pressure is applied; job, finance, emotional, psychological. Once the pressure comes there is no amount of skill or training that can compensate for being hollow – it all falls apart.

If families are built from the inside out, they can sustain pressure from the outside in.

Build Solid

4 things that keep a family together: 

  • Build Solid
  • Build Sacred
  • Solve Calendar
  • Solve Conflict

Build Solid:

  • Build a Christ centered family.
  • Learn to love and be loved.

Family Question: Is this a Christ Centered Solid Decision or a Self-Centered Hollow Decision?

How Many Souls are “Good Enough” for God?

Sometimes we get distracted in the activity of life and get wrapped up in a material world. This causes us to lose sight of the greatest good.

As Christians we should always re-engage our passion. Our true purpose is to continually reach out into the community of spiritually lost people.

God Applauds Doing Good for One Another

It matters that we do good to one another.

When someone blesses a child, it blesses their parents! That’s how God feels with us. When we do good to one another, He (God) feels good.

  • Love one another (John 13:35)
  • Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Build each other up (I Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Pray for each other (James 5:16)
  • Spur one another on toward love & good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)

Christians: Don’t Judge, Do Discern

It’s important for believers to discern the truth about how to live righteously. But using that truth to judge others can do more harm than good in trying to lead others to Jesus.

Figure out what lost people can discern of God and only share information that will invite them to investigate matters of faith further.

Shining your light to the world means leading with love. What people need most is the love of God, not the laws of God.

We (The Church) Have Not Arrived and That’s Okay

You can’t help someone else if you have unaddressed unrighteousness in your life. Only once you’ve learned to live above the bar yourself, can you help someone else over the bar.

None of us in the church have arrived. We are all incomplete and very much a work in progress in our walk with God. The church should be the safest place to be “in flight.” Invite others to join you and make the church a safe, welcoming place.

 

Relationships in Flight Require Effort

Are you “in flight” with a relationship that has not yet arrived? You’re probably doing everything you can to keep building it. But often people believe that when they get married they’ve “arrived” and they don’t need to give as much effort.

Building any relationship requires effort. Don’t give up.

Blind to Yourself, Deaf to God

A critical spirit will kill any relationship. When you judge others, it’s likely because you’ve become blind to yourself and deaf to God. This means you dismiss what you’re doing wrong and then you magnify the faults of others.

Pray and ask God to help you see things more clearly and tell Him you long to hear from Him. Then, silence the critical spirit inside you.

 

Jesus Lifts Us Over the Bar

Perhaps the church should be more loving to people and tell them, “We’re not above you. We’re actually just like you. We’re only made righteous because of Jesus.”

None of us can leap over the bar of righteousness on our own. Jesus lifts us over the bar with his righteousness.

What’s one good way to solve inequality?

From the beginning, God has given us a clear view of equality in the Bible. There is no superior race; we are all one in Jesus Christ.

Revelations 7:9 tells us that, in heaven, people of every race will worship God as one throughout eternity.

While we can’t solve all the world’s problems with inequality, we can each do our part to address it wherever we have influence. Change begins at home. Talk to your kids about equality.

Treat everyone with God-given dignity and respect.

Influence From Obscurity – Hidden Figures Recap

While many of us don’t aspire to life in the limelight, we can probably all agree that it would be nice to at least be recognized for our achievements and treated the same as everyone else. But what do you do when you find yourself working in relative obscurity regardless of your talents and not being afforded the perks and access that you rightfully deserve? Katherine Jackson’s story, as told in the movie Hidden Figures, is one such story.

A brilliant mathematics prodigy, Katherine started high school at age ten and finished college at the age of 18. As talented as she was, there were few job options available for educated African American women at the time, other than teaching. She eventually found full-time work at NASA in the mid-1950s as a human computer, one of a pool of women doing mathematical calculations for the engineers. Her extraordinary abilities soon landed her a more prominent role with the Space Task Group, whose mission was to get a man into space ahead of the Russians. A widow and single mother, Katherine not only had to prove her worth in an all-male environment and for unequal pay; as a woman of color she also had to traverse the minefield of segregation. Undaunted by the odds, Katherine led the way in calculating the launch and landing trajectories that enabled NASA to put a man in orbit, bring him safely home, and eventually put a man on the moon.

Leading Out of Obscurity

As with all the movies in this series, there is something to learned here of living life the way God would have us live it. So what can we learn from the story of Katherine’s influential, yet relatively obscure life? How did she do it? What’s one good way to lead from obscurity?

The Apostle Paul would tell us that no one is as obscure as we feel; God sees our work, so we work for him:

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Colossians 3:23, NIV)

He would also encourage us to endure hardship as you solve more problems. Work at it with all your heart. This is what Katherine did. She continued to work the math with everything she had despite blatant snubs from her male peers and the humiliation of being singled out because of her skin color. And as she solved more problems for the sake of the mission, she found herself becoming less obscure and being given even more responsibility.

Taking on Responsibility

This brings us to another life lesson: What’s one good way to get more in life? Take on more responsibility. Not only did Katherine live out this principle; she instilled it in her daughters as well. Upon coming home and finding her two younger girls fighting the older one for the privilege of not having to share a bed, Katherine promptly informed them that the perk came with the added responsibility of doing all Joylette’s chores. They declined. But Katherine did not shirk the added responsibility of extra work and long hours on the job. She followed the Apostle Paul’s example just as he tells us in II Thessalonians 3:6-13:

“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.”

II Thessalonians 3:6-13

Fight for the mission more than yourself

Again and again we see Katherine accepting the challenges life threw her way. If we were to look to her for advice on one good way to rise to the occasion, she might answer, Fight for the mission more than yourself. Rather than her story being about her treatment as a woman in a man’s world and as a person of color in the 1960s, it’s about her efforts to do everything she possibly could to help the space mission succeed. The Apostle Paul was also on a mission, sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (Galatians 1:1, NIV)—on a mission to serve others and spread the gospel. His attitude was that of a servant:

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (I Corinthians 9:19, NIV)

We, too, our called to be on mission for Christ, living not for ourselves, but as servants for the sake of others. We, too, are called to rise to the occasion by being on mission for God’s Kingdom:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Addressing Inequality Where You Have Influence

While taking on the posture of a servant feels like a backwards slip into obscurity, as we learned from Katherine’s story, fighting the tide of obscurity and inequality does not mean that we are without influence. In fact, her hyper-focus on the mission’s need to succeed and her ensuing push to be included in all aspects of her job were instrumental in bringing about change in how women and people of color were viewed and treated in her workplace. So while she couldn’t solve the problem of inequality in the whole south, she could address it where she had influence.

And so it is with us. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:26-29 that in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. And in Revelations 7:9, we see a picture of the social landscape of heaven:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9 NIV)

Change can seem daunting and hopeless. But if we focus on addressing inequality wherever we have influence, we CAN make a difference. Both Katherine and the Apostle Paul did just that. They endured hardship, took on responsibility, focused on the mission at hand rather than themselves, and became a force for change in their circles of influence, one person at a time.

Forming Meaningful Connections in Life

In the movies, we often see heroes who outwardly seem to have it all – success, fame and fortune. But what is really going on beneath the surface? Are these people really happy and fulfilled by all their material things?

In Lego Batman, we see a hero who outwardly appears to have it all together and be at the top of his game. But Batman is about to discover the real fight—the one that happens when we take off our mask and look in the mirror. Sometimes, the greatest villain we face is the one looking back at us from the mirror. We live in isolation and loneliness and wonder why even life’s major milestones seem to lack true meaning for us.fa

God gives us wisdom on the topic of connecting in Ecclesiastes, which says, in part, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:7-10)

Having meaningful relationships, living in authentic community is better than being isolated. So maybe instead of being celebrated, Batman should be pitied. He finds himself celebrating alone and even laughter is no fun when there’s no one to share it with.

PK identifies two powerful life lessons for us all in Lego Batman:

1) Life doesn’t work when you work alone!

Batman doesn’t do “ships” – as in relationships – because he thinks he prefers to work alone. But we see that what really matters in life is having authentic relationships with roots. Otherwise, when you stumble in life (and we all stumble), you’ll be on your own. As Batman discovered, when you work alone, you wear a mask even with the people you know. We fear rejection if we are our authentic selves, so it seems easier to remain isolated.

When you work alone, you lack self-awareness. You become BLIND to yourself, therefore you can’t see yourself or how you treat others. Your blindness often becomes your weakness, and your weakness can cause you to stumble and fall.

2) You can’t be a Hero if you only care about yourself.

You can’t be relationally or emotionally connected if you only care about yourself. The isolation we create leads to loneliness, and what good are celebrations and struggles if you have no one to share them with? Isolation and selfishness were never a part of God’s plan for our lives!

In Romans 12, we see God’s direction to us for building strong connections. We read that we are all part of the same body of Christ, although we have different functions and gifts. In verses 9-10, we are told to love sincerely and be devoted to one another in brotherly love. We are to honor one another by offering support, help and hospitality with those in need.

Pastor Kevin points out the proper application:

“I AM the church, I CARE ABOUT OTHERS. This is not telling others to be about me; this is teaching me to be about others. I don’t show up to church for me to be served; I show up for God and to serve others.”

This biblical guideline hits home for Batman when he painfully becomes aware of the reality of his isolation. Batman connects with others in order to do ‘ships’ – as in relationships – when he joins team with Gotham to beat the bad guys. And for the first time, Batman finds himself caring about people other than himself.

Connections that Last

In caring for others, Batman is no longer alone. He’s becoming a true hero. But it’s not enough that he cares. He has to go one step further and really connect. Batman finally allows these relationships to carry over into his personal life as well, no longer living in isolation, but becoming a true friend and being part of a family.

God created us to connect in community. And while sin has pulled apart our world of healthy relationships, Jesus makes it possible for us to re-connect to one another with him as the head of the church. This is why we are called a church family! Are there areas of your life where you can better connect with others?

So Lego Batman is not just a movie fantasy, it’s the reality of what Jesus accomplished when he died on the cross, rose to new life, and restores us to our created purpose. Life works best when we live in community with Him and with others. Through connection, we live out our life’s purpose and have an opportunity to grow. Real heroes restore relationships and community.

Don’t Just Care, Connect

God created us to connect in community, and through Christ’s work on the cross, we are one church family united as brothers and sisters with one Heavenly Father.

Practice the values of living in community and serving others. Connect with God and one another – because real heroes restore relationships.

 

You Can’t Be a Hero if You Only Care About Yourself.

Romans 12 teaches us to “be devoted to one another in love and honor one another above ourselves…” because we all make up the body of Christ, and each person is equally important.

Do you serve your church, family, and community – or do you wait to see whether they’re serving you? Resist the urge to compare your contribution against everyone else’s and invest yourself in others.

 

Life Doesn’t Work When You Work Alone!

When you’ve been hurt by others, it’s tempting to withdraw as a means of protecting yourself. But there’s no real safety in solitude. It’s only through authentic relationships that we prosper through life’s difficulties.

God didn’t intend for you to live emotionally isolated and disconnected from others. Be courageous and dive into community!

 

From self-absorbed to self-sacrificing

What does it take to save a galaxy? You might think of mighty heroes with outrageous powers, or genius warriors with superior weapons. But chances are you wouldn’t think about a group of selfish miscreants made up of an orphan, a murderer, a raccoon, and a talking tree. Yet that’s exactly what Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy gives us. A ragtag group filled with flaws responsible for stopping a wickedly powerful enemy.

Now, like every movie in our At the Movies series, Guardians has a message that echoes the Bible. We see in the New Testament another group of ragtag misfits brought together by Jesus. We call them the Disciples, and they were very much like the Guardians. A mix of people from different backgrounds, brought together for a purpose greater than themselves. And like the Guardians, we see the disciples take a very specific journey.

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