Peter Pan

Last night was truly remarkable! We got to see Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby take flight as Peter Pan in an all new production at the La Mirada Performing Arts Theater. Prior to the show, we even got to meet Cathy and snap a few photos with her.

This was Zach’s first Broadway show, and I don’t think we adequately prepared him or ourselves for what we were going to experience. It was truly amazing to see Cathy, who is almost 60 years old, take flight and prance around the stage with her awe-inspiring aerial feats. Cathy was just so much fun to watch and brought such enthusiasm and heart to this show. And it was super fun to watch Zach’s eyes light up, as together we experienced Peter Pan for the first time. We didn’t want the evening to end.

Below is a clip from Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan that has the same staging and costume from last night’s show! There are still some tickets for this weekend’s show and then they are off to the Fox Theater in Riverside and after that they’ll play the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. I highly recommend going to experience the wonder and excitement of Peter Pan!

Lessons from Peter

A successful entrepreneur with a thriving fishing business, Peter was a natural leader who was willing to take risks. He was bold, impulsive and often stuck out his neck in pursuit of being with Jesus. This zealous side of Peter served him well, but it also got him into trouble. Throughout the Scriptures, we see Peter struggling to let go of his agenda and accept God’s agenda, and in doing so, he sets himself up for failure time and time again.

While Peter didn’t lack for motivation, he did refuse to deal with many of the “know” and “below” barriers that prevented him from being the man God intended. Aware of Peter’s tendencies, Jesus allowed Peter to put himself in positions to fail, because in doing so, Jesus knew that Peter would also put himself in positions to grow. Every time Peter failed, he learned something about life and every time he learned something, he grew. And in learning from his mistakes, Peter became a different man.

Presented with the same challenges and opportunities, we would likely respond like Peter, who boasted too much, prayed too little, acted too fast and followed too far away. However, the good news is that just like Peter, who learned from his mistakes, there is a gracious Father who wants to do the same wonderful work in our lives as well. But that takes a commitment on our part. First, to be courageous enough to face our own “know”, “go” and “below” barriers to spiritual growth. Second, to trust God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Becoming the Person God Intended

The most important task of our life is not what we do, but who we become. Since we are God’s people, created for his plan and purposes, he knows what we are intended to be. And being in Christ and growing in him means we are moving towards God’s best version for us.

Peter’s full name at birth was Simon Bar-Jonah (Matthew 16:17), meaning “Simon, son of Jonah” (John 21:15-17). But as one of his disciples, Jesus gives Simon another name, Peter, which means “rock.” However, before God could do the work he desired through Peter, he first had to do a work in him. Over time God would take a fisherman with an ambivalent, vacillating and impulsive personality and shape him into a rock like leader. And in God’s training process, Peter learned that in spite of his weaknesses, the Lord wanted to use him and had great plans for him.

Similarly, as God grows you, he wants to use the situations of life to refine and shape us for the mission he has called us to. God made you to flourish and to produce blessing beyond yourself. Flourishing is God’s plan and gift, and when you flourish, you are in harmony with God, other people, creation and yourself. And it means you are becoming the person God had in mind when he created you. It is moving towards God’s best version of you.

Just like Peter, God has a purpose and plan for you, but he won’t discard the raw material. He just redirects it.

The Power of Community

Eugene Peterson, known for his work on The Message, was asked to speak to the question of why everyone should consider being in a small group. His response, profoundly expresses the power of community:

“We learn best when we’re learning with others. A small group is the perfect setup for discussion. Truth is ambiguous. It’s not clear. If you want to absolutely clear language you have to use mathematics. That’s the only absolutely clear language we have. Everything else is subject to tone, inflection, context and relationship between people. A group is where you can work out those ambiguities through discussion. The way you get the gospel is to forgive someone, help someone, build a relationship with someone. It has relationship in it. That takes practice. It goes beyond just knowing something.”

1980’s Film Alphabet

As a small group champion, I am always looking for fun ways to connect people and help break the ice. I recently stumbled upon some fun guessing games from graphic design artist Stephen Wildish, who has come up with some awesome minimalist alphabet posters featuring classic movies from the 80’s, 90’s and other film genres.

If your small group is looking to have some fun, print up this poster and divide your group into teams and see how many answers they can come up within a few minutes.

In the meantime, how many 80’s movies can you name from the poster above? Check to see if you’re right using the answer key provided after the break. Don’t peak!

Encouraging Others

We can uplift and affirm one another in a variety of ways. Here are eight ways to consider…

1. Speaking – Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are … sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” The number of ways we can encourage one another through our speech is almost limitless. One pastor friend never leaves a conversation without saying one positive thing to the person he’s talking to.

2. Writing –  The New Testament epistles are proof of the power of written communication. Sometimes a short note to someone who’s discouraged can mean so much. Think creatively. For example, there’s a staff member on our team that randomly leaves encouraging notes on people’s desks. It’s his way of saying, “I appreciate you.”

3. Being Present –  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” says Psalm 34:18. Sometimes God asks us simply to be with others in person on his behalf. I have learned that you don’t have to say much. In fact, sometimes it’s better to say nothing. Our presence itself can be a deeply encouraging gift.

4. Touching – Jesus often touched people. Scientists are just starting to document the positive effects of touch, which God has known about all along. From a light touch on the forearm to a tight hug, these gestures encourage others wordlessly and are best expressed by those who have the love language of touch.

5. Praying –  The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:11, “You help us by your prayers.” Everyone can have this ministry. My wife Jennifer has this gift of encouragement. She’s a prayer warrior! My friend Jason, also asks the question, “How can I pray for you?” on his Facebook wall each week. What a great way to encourage someone by praying for them.

6. Showing Hospitality – “Practice hospitality,” says Romans 12:13. I recently attended a mixed small group leaders appreciation event for our leaders at SCG, hosted by our Mixed Groups Coordinators Jeff & Pam! It was in the small touches of decor, food and entertainment that they communicated that they appreciated their leaders.

7. Giving –  Proverbs 22:9 states that, “A generous man will himself be blessed.” God wants his people to share their lives with others—their time, their money, their possessions. Any of these can be used creatively to encourage others.

8. Helping – Common jobs and chores—housework, shuttling a friend to the airport, baby-sitting—are so appreciated in the ministry of encouragement. “Whatever you do,” says Colossians 3:23, “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

So, what’s your encouragement style? And while we’re talking about it, thanks for taking time to read and interact with my blog. Your comments, Facebook likes and shared links are always appreciated.

The Kingdom of God

In the Kingdom of God…

…a person is lifted up by humbling himself, not by exalting himself in the eyes of others.

…strength is found through weakness, not by being confident in your own abilities.

…fullness comes by becoming empty, not by running after pleasure.

…life is gained by losing it, not by looking out for “number one.”

…riches come by giving them away, not by storing them up.

…greatness comes by becoming a servant, not by seeking power and celebrity.

by Roy Lessin, DaySpring Cards

Iron Sharpens Iron

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  – Proverbs 27:17, NIV

Last night was a great night! I got to reconnect with my college buddies from UC Santa Barbara. These are friends I’ve known for over 25 years. And as we sat and talked together, I was reminded of God’s goodness and grace in my life. My life has truly been blessed, in that I have been surrounded with so many great people, who reflect Jesus in beautiful ways. People who have helped me grow spiritually and experience a quality of life that is exuberant and life-giving. These people have spurred me on in the Christian race and have inspired me to be my all for God. However, as I sat with my college buddies last night, I recalled how special these friends were in particular.

From my group of friends at UCSB, six of us went on to serve in vocational ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ, and that’s not counting some of our friends from other area schools. I guess you might expect to find that from a Christian university, but this was my experience at university with a “reputation” of being a “party school”! What brought us together, is the same thing that has kept us together, our common faith and commitment to living that out in our world.

As I sat there with my friends, I was thankful, because I realized that God had used my friends to help shape me into the person I am today. It reminded me of the principle, “who we spend our precious time with, will in part affect the direction we go in”. And in this circle of friends, we were all committed to loving Jesus and living according to His plans and purposes for our lives. Therefore our lives took the trajectory of those with whom we had associated with.

If you want to grow into a solid and faithful follower of Jesus, it’s important to spend time with others who are just as committed to spiritual maturity as you are. As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat!”. In other words, you become what you take in and accept into your life. So choose to connect with others who are looking to grow in their spiritual maturity and you will find yourself maturing and becoming the person God wants you to be.

I’m thankful for my friends and for the many others who inspire me to become God’s best version of myself!

Summer 2012 Movie Picks

Today was officially the last day of school for my son Zach. I don’t know if it’s the June gloom or the cast on his leg that has put a glitch in our summer plans, but I’m having a hard time embracing the fact that summer has arrived. But it’s here, whether I’m ready or not and I was reminded of that, as we spent the afternoon at Downtown Disney and saw that a years worth of construction all finished up. Especially on the new entrance to California Adventure, CarsLand as well as at the Lego store.

There’s another industry that always seems to gear up for the summer and release a slew of summer flicks that they hope will become the blockbuster movie of the summer. So in anticipation of the summer movie releases, here are some of the films I’m looking forward to the most, in order of their release dates…

1. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8, 2012) – Just watched Madagascar 1 & 2 with Zach so we’re ready for this new adventure as Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple. This time the road takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent Madagascar style!

2. Brave (June 22, 2012) – Always love what Pixar brings to the screen! In this film, Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3, 2012) – It’s a super hero summer so it wouldn’t be complete without the story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

4. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20, 2012) – The last movie was great and this release happens to be the one I’m most looking forward to seeing this summer! In this movie, which is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman faces challenges from the brutal Bane and the stealthy Catwoman.

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (August 3, 2012) – I’ve loved watching this series with Zach, who has really enjoyed reading the books as well. Based on the third and fourth book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Last Straw and Dog Days. School is out and Greg is ready for the days of summer, when all his plans go wrong. What on earth is he going to do all summer?

Yea, it’s going to be a super heroes sort of summer! What are you looking forward to seeing most?

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