Today I turn 47 years old. Even typing that makes me feel weird...and old. It's hard to believe that I'm almost five decades in on this thing called life. Here are a few life lessons I've learned on my journey so far:
1. Rise above by turning to God.
People tell me I've had to rise above a lot in my life. I was almost aborted, was raised in a violent family in a crime-ridden part of town, was poor by American standards, blah, blah, blah.
But to be honest the way I've been able to rise above was by turning to God. From the time I was a kid this was my knee-jerk response. My mom would often freak out and scour the house to try to find me. Often I was curled up underneath the kitchen sink or bed or corner of the closet with a Bible and a flashlight. I hid to get away from the noise (I had a loud family) and get away with my Daddy. Although I never knew my biological father (I was a one night stand) I knew I was deeply loved by my heavenly Father and so I longed to spend time with him. His Word pushed out the confusion and the clatter.
Turning to God is still my knee jerk response. Only he brings meaning to this life. I guess I've had my share of challenges but, by turning to God I've been enabled to rise above them.
2. Gospelize everyone.
Romans 1:16 reminds us to not be "ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Growing up I saw what happened when my violent family was "gospelized" by a church in the suburbs of Denver. Everthing changed because everyone changed...from the inside out.
Years later as a church planter and pastor I witnessed how a small church (Grace Church) could make a big impact when it chose to go on mission and not just have meetings. My life-long friend, Rick Long, and myself had no idea that a quarter of century later the church we planted with 23 others would explode so big with new conversion growth. The reason? Because from square one we gospelized everyone. I am so proud that, in the thirteen years I've been gone from Grace, Rick has continued to gospelize and, as a result, this church of thousands has 62% new conversion growth!The "secret sauce" to this church's success is the gospel being preached clearly and consistently!
As the Prez of Dare 2 Share I have the honor of equipping tens of thousands of teenagers and youth leaders across the nation how to gospelize their campuses and communities. I'm so blessed by the constant stream of stories we hear from coast to coast of lives that are being changed and souls that are being saved because of the next generation's relentless commitment to gospelize everyone.
Our prayer is that as a result of their commitment to gospelize we can work with churches and other ministries to mobilize teenagers on every one of the 67,342 high schools and middle schools in America. Please pray for us as we seek to accomplish our vision for THE Cause of Christ!
3. Intercessory prayer is not just for old ladies and "crazy" people!
It's been just in the last few years that I've really been learning this lesson on the soul and habit level. I always knew that it was theologically true but knowledge without action is dead orthodoxy just like faith without works is dead.
Almost four years ago Dare 2 Share suffered a huge financial setback. As a result we had to let half of our staff go (so painful!) and cut key programs. There was a period of time I seriously wondered if we were going to have to shut our doors. The weight of this concern drove me to my knees and taught me how to pray...I mean really pray.
And I watched the results with awe. God came through again and again. God provided, our ministry deepened in it's impact and I began to be transformed.
No longer do I use prayer as "holy water" to sprinkle on my whiteboard ministry strategies. Now I (and our team) spend time in prayer and the core strategies shake out of that.
I so wish that I could get in a time machine and tell the younger Greg, "Dude, start praying! Intercessory prayer is not just for little old ladies! Pray like your ministry depends on it...because it does!" But I can't go back in time. What I can do is to challenge YOU to pray like your ministry depends on it...because it does!
Well, these are three of the lessons I've learned over the last 47 years. I hope they encourage you today.