20 years ago today (03/29/98) I decided to go ALL-IN with my relationship with Christ! At 21 I was an angry young black man who was bitter towards God because of the death of my dad. I was violent, quick tempered, carried a gun, messed with drugs, was prejudice against older white guys, and always found a way to sabotage good friendships and relationships.
I’m not sure where you are currently in life but at 21 I discovered a God loved me so much that He accepted me like I was BUT loved me too much to leave me in the condition that He found me.
Since then, I still haven’t been the best believer, husband, father, son, family member, community leader that I should be. So I’m thankful the Holy Spirit reminds me to run back to my Heavenly Father for direction.
This video basically sums up the last 20 years of walking, stumbling, falling, getting up and continuing to move forward with the Lord.
I believe that:
God created us to be with him.
Our sins separated us from God.
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds.
Paying the price for said Jesus died and rose again (EASTER).
Everyone who trust in Him alone has eternal life.
Life with Jesus starts now and last forever!
I had a war within myself to even mention this but I saw a post by a minister that is struggling with the same issue. Last week, I was coaching a group of youth pastors on Value 6 of a Gospel Advancing Ministry which states “A Bold Vision Focuses It.” I messaged them and got the “ok’s” but “PLEASE LEAVE MY NAME OUT of it’s” so I feel able to post some of the details.
The question that led to our conversation was, “If your church's vision can be done by your church alone, is it a kingdom vision?” All of them then stated that they wish they could network but they have been systemically groomed to distance themselves from all churches but their own. WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!
It got sadder when the one said that when leadership in their church gets the talking he wants to stand up on the table and say, “Guys can we just admit that we are upset because we’re dysfunctional and our gossiping, jealousy, slander, backbiting is adding more PLANK-EYE type sin on our own account!” Then he said, something that made us all tear up... “It will only change when this leadership style dies off because the adults and youth with friends at other churches ain’t falling for it. They know everyone’s dysfunctional and we’re all reaching for God together.” The show stopper was the statement “If I wasn’t in leadership there I wouldn’t attend there because of it.”
Needless to say there was a lot of healing that took place afterwards, a lot of encouragement to have the tough conversations with leadership. But most of all I believe this single conversation has united that group of ministers tighter than any community church service ever could have. The reason? Because everyone minister on that call felt the same way!
As a result of this conversation 5 thoughts came to mind…
1 I’M GUILTY AS CHARGED!
The truth is we all wrestle with “plank eye.” We have a sin nature that causes us to give GRACE to our shortcomings and LAW to others.
2 IT’S ALSO A BLANKETED STATEMENT
Obviously this doesn’t fit all churches. These are just general statements. There are many Gospel Advancing churches that put aside religious conviction (not sin) and work together to reach their communities.
3 DON’T BE BULLIED
“American church folk” don’t be bullied, systematically pinned against each other or check your brain at the door because we’re not under communism. It’s difficult for a non-believer to think you’ll love them through their faults when we show dislike believers who have different convictions (not sin activity).
4 THERE’S A REAL GOD
There’s a real God, that displays real love, through a real Savior. The local church is place in a community to display this love on earth. NOTE: each great church will and should have dysfunctional people because everyone needs a Savior.
5 THE 180 ASK
It feels weird to say but to the “non-church folk…” “pray for us!”
I do honestly believe that revival is in the hearts of believers who get the revelation that we’re better together. If “the church” is the body of Christ (hands, feet, eyes and ears) then is it ok for the hand to say to foot because you’re not like the hand you’re not part of the body?
If you find yourself in a similar situation then I encourage you, don’t be bullied and have the difficult conversation with the people able to make change. Who knows this may be the thing withholding the move of God in the church and from the community.
13 years ago I made one of the best decisions of my life, I married Glory Sterling. I remember telling my youth pastor, “I can't wait to do ministry with her.”
As I look back I smile at the years of student ministry we have done together. Then sadden by how I allowed the slow fade of the go go go of ministry to eat away at the pray pray pray of ministry she was my steady voice. I was faced with the reality of how patient Glory has been through 14 1/2 years of go go go. I think that if the shoe was on the other foot I would not have been so patient. So last year, I said, "I do again!" And I plan on saying it everyday of my life!
So today I salute my wife. Her “grind” and the “position” of ministry she has held hasn’t earned her many “close friends” but the ones she has, she loves hard. I know this first hand because she has loved me hard even when I was VERY unlovable but she has ALWAYS stayed consistent, never checked her brain at the door and spoke hard truth which has gotten her “in trouble.” I’m sad to admit that I didn’t always have her back in times when she needed me because I let the politics of things blind me.
I'm not sure where you may be in relationship with your spouse but if God put you two together just realize that your spouse is NOT your enemy, they are a warring partner. It’s sad that it has taken me this long for it to click, but I refuse to have anything tear me away from my warring partner.
Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.”
-I didn’t make her into a good thing. I FOUND a good thing (the Lord prepared her)!
-I see the favor from the LORD when I feel inadequate and limited she is my earthly help-meet.
Because we allowed God to put back our broken pieces I can say 100% it's a joy being married for 13 years and still doing ministry together. I feel like we’re dating all over again! I love you with every fiber of my body.
My friend Tom McCall does a fitness training program and in the last year I've seen it grow into something incredible. But lately it's gotten pretty serious. So serious that his wife Andrea has recently broken some records in lifting. The cool part is that although they are killin’ it as a couple Tom uses his gift to help people in the community reach their fitness goals. But behind the scenes I know they go the extra mile and make exaggerated efforts to make sure people reach their goals.
Have you ever been to the gym and see the people that go ALL OUT and you're like, “Why am I even here? I’ll never be able to get there...” and maybe at that time you just stop and start watching the TV in front of the treadmill OR you just stop going altogether? Or maybe you're the person that goes ALL OUT and walks around knowing it and flexing. Or maybe you're the person who can go ALL OUT and you're willing to help those reach their potential.
I believe God has some incite for us in Luke 18:9-14. “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector” 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Here we have two people, very close to each other physically but at the same time very far from each other. In other words we have the proverbial Pharisee “meathead” bragging about his "bench" and thankful that he's not as weak as the one struggling on the "bench” aka the Tax Collector. In verses 11-12 I can imagine seeing the Pharisee flexing and posing in the mirror of his own righteousness and works. Then in verse 13 I can see the Tax Collector struggling on the bench. I then get an image of Christ smiling at the one “struggling on the bench” because he’s a member at “the gym of life” knowing he can't lift life on his own because he needs the Holy Spirit as a spotter. And I see an image of Christ giving the screwface look to the “meathead” saying, “C’mon man, you were there several times. In fact there was a time that you used to need a spotter.”
-Do I even “lift” to where I realize I still need a spotter?
-Do I even notice weights in my life and others that I need to lift in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of close friends in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of those I come in contact with in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of my city and the ones who look, act and behave differently than me in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of the world that I live in in prayer and in action?
-Am I looking in the mirror of my own righteousness and looking down at others who are struggling to lift bro?
This type of self reflection will cause us to become slower and speak and quicker to listen.
The moment we put totally put our trust in Christ alone for salvation was the moment we realized we couldn't lift on our own and needed a spotter. Sometimes when we are removed from having community with others in the “gym of life” we forget Luke 18:9-14. We tend to walk through the “gym” of our communities or social media feeds and look down on those who don't lift like us and forget that we need a spotter too.
So you could have the proverbial Pharisee “meat head” approach or come alongside a “Tax Collector” like Tom and Andrea and disciple them through the lifting process.
For the record… Give me a fellowship of tax collectors helping tax collectors who know they can't lift on their own and know they need a spotter… they may not look as “attractive” while staring all day in the mirror of righteousness but they tend to be more humble and helpful.
What's your bench press like?
Since 2011 I’ve been speaking to my high school’s varsity football team of the school I graduated from. Although it didn’t add crazy number into our youth ministry, I saw this need to deposit important life-skills for "on and off the field," and in my free time a team of friends and I filled the need to feed and speak these young men. I had no idea how important the ministry of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) was until March 2, 2106 during the first week of my sabbatical.
There may be times when you are involved in something and forces are pulling you away but you know that you know you need to keep pursuing it. Little did I know that during my sabbatical that a 10 minute meeting with Scott Myers of FCA Western MD was going to begin to change my life.
I believe that we are giving the ability to be forks. People will want us for our “forky-ness” and then try to break the prongs off us to make us spoons and still require us to perform as forks. I went to Scott because I knew he was a fork, he's been a fork ever since I knew him, he performs as a fork and makes no apologies for being a fork. Most of all he wants others to be their God given “forky abilities.”
This is what he did with me in my 10 minutes with him.
Scott: “Write your name on this napkin.”
Me: I wrote my name with my right hand.
Scott: “Nice, now write it with your other hand.”
Me: I wrote it with my left hand.
Scott: “Nice, I can read both. Why don't you write with your left hand more often?”
Me: “It’s not my strong hand, my whole life I've been right handed.”
Scott: “EXACTLY!!! You've been created to perform a specific tasks, this is your right hand of ministry. But you've allowed yourself and others to make you write the story of your life using your life hand. Although you've learned how to write with your left hand it’s not natural and therefore you'll be frustrated.”
Me: “OH MY GOODNESS!!!”
Scott: “During your sabbatical you need to find your right hand!!!”
My take away was this…
1- If I KNOW my NO I'll have more time to help many more people.
2- Since I enjoy serving it’s OK to do some left handed things but they may need to have a deadline because I have to get back to right handed business.
3- Ask Christ for the ability to regain the prongs of my life so I can rebuild what I allowed life to take away from me.
What are your thoughts on this?
“The Perception of Presence”
I lived a really busy lifestyle, it was go, go, go, go, go... I didn't know how to turn it off!!! It came to the point where I became my kids soccer and basketball coaches because I would have let my “busyness” keep me from going to practices, scrimmages and games. Little did I know that Eli was asking Glory, “Why doesn't Daddy just quit his job because he's never around!” From my perspective I was around, I mean, “I help coach all your sports!!! I could be still on the clock but I work my butt off to 'shift the clock' and that's why I’m not around at times.”
As a dad you may have a really busy work life and make many sacrifices just to “try” to be present but because of our “guy-ness” we act like it's no big deal but on the inside we are STRETCHED!!!
There's a saying that says, “The best present, is presence.” With all my running around and trying to be the best pastor, dad, coach, husband, community member, etc… I think the main problem was that I just needed to be present.
It wasn't until we went away last summer on vacation that I got it. I left my phone back at the place we were staying and my kids were saying “let's go here” and “let's play over there” and I was saying “yes” to all of it. My kids don't want Coach Tyree they want Daddy. I got my presents (the things I did), mixed up with my presence (the time I spent).
I don't know about you but I believe we have this inherent nature (the Bible calls it sin). This nature attempts to cause me to be prideful, to do things that please me and be slow to listen and quick to speak. Through Christ, God has to harness me and pull my reins back so I can see through a different lens.
I ain't gonna lie… I will still help coach but with God's help they will get more DADDY and less coach!
Stay encouraged dad’s! #HappyFathersDay #Dad #life https://www.instagram.com/p/BVffBT2DXYf/
I’m not exactly sure when this began but I have had this extreme hesitancy to talk in public about the things I do behind the scenes or on front of a stage. As a youth pastor I didn't even promote to my students the music I made or opportunities that I've had.
Have you ever seen people who seem to crave the limelight? Yeah, me too! I think the biggest reason I have had this “extreme hesitancy” is for fear of being seen like that.
I’ve talked to many people that I look up to about this situation and they’ve basically said the same thing, “Tyree you have gifts, talents and abilities that people need to be a part of. Don’t rob them of that experience.” I heard them but as I walked away each time I honestly felt like, “What? Me? If people knew my insecurities and doubts about myself they’d never have confidence in me.” I believe this was the major reason that “I was afraid to LOOK successful.”
I recently went to a church service and this was the outcome of what I wrote by faith: “I was afraid to look successful but now I am successful in Him.” When I see this quote I think three things:
1) "I was afraid”: speaking by faith even though I’m hesitant, afraid, ______ (fill in the blank), I can’t allow that stop me from moving forward.
2) “to look successful”: it’s not a selfish or arrogant success but a “success” that puts me in a position to do good for the group of people that I’ve been called to help. STUDENTS!
3) “but now I am successful in Him”: if I continue to stay in Christ, I believe He will help keep my heart right as “successful opportunities” come my way.
I think we all have a “hesitancy” and need to evaluate why it’s there. Being a person of faith I believe it’s best to filter decisions through the lense of Christ. And because of this I can say with 0% confidence in myself that “I was afraid to look successful but now I am successful in Him.”