Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pep Talk

The other day a friend reminded me that I had promised her a pep talk.  My first thought was send my favorite inspirational speeches from movie “classics” like Independence Day, Braveheart and Rocky V.  Something in each one of these inspires me – like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson getting amped to Ironic in The Internship (not exactly a movie classic).

 If you need a pep talk try reading one of these.  It helps to shout them – even wave your arms and pound your fist a little.  Read William Wallace’s with a Scottish accent and Rocky’s with your best “Yo Adriane” voice. 

And there are lot’s of other pep talks to choose from – Al Pacino in The Longest Yard, Gene Hackman in Hoosiers, Bill Murray in Stripes (we’re 10 and 1) I just can’t include Rudy - all I can see is Samwise Gamgee – so I added his speech at the end. 

So what’s your favorite movie inspirational speech?  Here are mine:

The Independence Day Speech
In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences any more. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it's fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist and should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, 'We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on, we're going to survive.' Today we celebrate our independence day!"

The Braveheart Speech
"I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!"

The Rocky Balboa Speech
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!  Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!  I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.

The Miracle On Ice Speech
 “Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you have earned here, tonight. One game. If we played ‘em ten times they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with ‘em. Tonight, we stay with ‘em, and we shut them down because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players — every one of ya. This is your time. Their time — is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw them. This is your time!! Now go out there take it!”

The We Are Marshall Speech
For those of you who may not know, this is the final resting place for six members of the 1970 Thundering Herd. The plane crash that took their lives was so severe, so absolute, that their bodies were unable to be identified. So they were buried here. Together. Six players. Six teammates. Six Sons of Marshall. This is our past, gentlemen. This is where we have been. This is how we got here. This is who we are. Today, I want to talk about our opponent this afternoon. They're bigger, faster, stronger, more experienced and on paper, they're just better. And they know it too. But I want to tell you something that they don't know. They don't know your heart. I do. I've seen it. You have shown it to me. You have shown this coaching staff, your teammates. You have shown yourselves just exactly who you are in here. When you take that field today, you've got to lay that heart on the line, men. From the souls of your feet, with every ounce of blood you've got in your body, lay it on the line until the final whistle blows. And if you do that, if you do that, we cannot lose. We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game but if you play like that we cannot be defeated. Now we came here today to remember six young men and sixty-nine others who will not be on the field with you today, but they will be watching. You can bet that they'll be gritting their teeth with every snap of that football. You understand me? How you play today, from this moment on is how you will be remembered. This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory. We are Marshall! We are Marshall! We are Marshall! The funerals end today!

The Samwise Gamgee Speech

I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. (Frodo asks: “What are we holding onto, Sam?”) That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Men Wanted

In recruiting a crew for his 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition the British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackelton posted the following announcement:

MEN WANTED for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.

He received 5,000 responses for the 27 available positions!

There is something inside us that responds when we are challenged.  With that in mind here's a challenge for the men at Mountaintop.

Wanted Eighty Men.  April 25 and 26 Mountaintop Men are getting off the mountain for Men’s Retreat  - A Better WayWe will explore what it means to be a better man and what we must do as men to serve one another, our families, our church, and most importantly, our God. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong and God has something to say about both. There will be personal stories from men who have faced real challenges.  They will share how they confronted and overcame them and how they now have healing through their relationship with Jesus Christ.  Location: YMCA Hargis Retreat in Chelsea – we know you don’t need directions – real men never ask for directions. Cost: $70 (Food, lodging and t-shirt included – and scholarships are available.  Register simply by clicking on A Better Life

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mountaintop March Madness Bracket

I love March!

Easter is approaching.  Spring is in the air (and do we ever need winter to be over). The days grow a little longer.  Spring Break gives us a little rest. Opening Day for MLB is just weeks away.  And best of all March Madness is about to get underway!

For those not familiar with the phrase March Madness it refers primarily to the Men’s NCAA basketball Tournament that begins this week (though in our family we are also big fans of the Women’s Tournament – especially Stanford).   March Madness has a language of it’s own as Diaper Dandies seek to lead Cinderella stories through the Sweet Sixteen into the Elite Eight and maybe the Final Four.  It’s March Madness that has introduced me to the phrase Gonzaga-Baby, FGCU as Dunk City and made me realize that Creighton is in Nebraska.

This week some of your friends, co-workers, classmates and even pastors will be spending late hours in the evening trying to figure out which 12 seed will upset a 5 (it happens almost every year), which 2 will make an early exit and ultimately who will win it all.  It’s a science (really an art) known as bracketology.  Warren Buffet (who is a huge Creighton fan) has even offered a billion dollars if anyone can pick a perfect bracket (the odds are 9.2 quintillion-to-1).

I definitely won’t have a perfect bracket (I pick way too many ACC schools) but I love picking teams and competing with my friends for bragging rights – so I am part of a family bracket group and a staff bracket group and one with friends from around the world – and so why not one more.

This year we are introducing a Mountaintop March Madness Bracket.  It’s simple to play – click on the link Mountaintop March Madness and follow the instructions.  Be sure to pick Harvard in the first round and I think North Dakota State is going to surprise some people.

The winner will get not only bragging rights but free registration to either of our upcoming events for men and women coming up in April (Men’s Retreat) and June (Women’s Retreat).

We will see who are the P.T.P.ers who can Shoot the Area Code J and who will wind up with a Wilson Sandwich.

Let the Madness Begin!

PS:  Here are some of the details for the Men’s Retreat – A Better Way
Friday and Saturday – April 25 and 26

We will explore what it means to be a better man and what we must do as men to serve one another, our families, our church, and most importantly, our God. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong and God has something to say about both. There will be personal stories from men who have faced real challenges.  They will share how they confronted and overcame them and how they now have healing through their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Location: YMCA Hargis Retreat in Chelsea – we know you don’t need directions – real men never ask for directions.

Cost: $70 (Food, lodging and t-shirt included – and scholarships are available

Register simply by clicking on A BetterLife

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Noah: The End is the Beginning

The story of Noah – the one found in Genesis 6 through 9 – is an incredible story of judgment and redemption, obedience, faithfulness and promise.

The movie Noah, which opens this month, has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster hit.  The cast includes some of my favorite Academy Award winning actors (I actually thought Russell Crowe was awesome as Javert in Les Miserables) and the production cost totals $145 million so the special effects should be spectacular.

I can’t wait to see the movie!

And I recognize that, while the movie and the Genesis story share some common ground, they are definitely NOT the same story.  Darren Aronofsky’s film may be inspired by the Biblical story but it’s not a retelling of Genesis 6 through 9.

There’s a lot being written and posted online about the movie (which I imagine delights Paramount).  Some of what is being written “warns” Christians about the dangers of the movie.  Other posts are encouraging Christians to go see the film.

I’ve not seen the movie – the fact is many of the people writing about it haven’t.  I’ve not read the script of the movie – again, many of the people writing about it haven’t either.  The ONLY information I have is what I’ve read online and based on that here’s my take:

There are some things the movie will get right – especially the idea that God takes sin seriously – and there are things in the movie that won’t match the Genesis story. It seems that the biggest concerns are extra elements that have been added to the original story - an apparent focus on environmental sin and a telling of the creation story that, while it isn’t a Richard Dawkins version, is more evolutionary than some Christians may like.

With that in mind, I believe those of us who follow Jesus should do two things:

Learn the story of Noah as it’s told in Genesis.  The movie trailer suggests that the story is more than you might imagine and that part they definitely get right.  Noah is about so much more than cute animals and rainbows.  We need to know the real story.  That’s why we are beginning a new series this SundayNoah:  the end is the beginning.  We will explore answers to the questions:

Why did God really destroy the earth?
What does it look like to be obedient when God asks me to do something crazy?
How can God care for me in the midst of His judgment?
What does a rainbow really promise?

The series begins this Sunday and it’s a great Sunday to do the second thing – invite a friend to come and learn the story with you. Invite someone to come to Mountaintop and together learn the story that inspired the movie – and then (after you know the real story) go to the movie together and talk about the differences. And pay attention in coming weeks – we have some fun ideas to help you make that invitation!

At Mountaintop we have a vision to be a community that is learning and sharing a better way of life.  We do that because we are convinced that life with Jesus is better (and will last forever) and that Jesus will make us better at life today.  Movies like Noah give us the opportunity to do what Jesus and His followers have always done: engage the world in learning His better way.

So I hope to see you Sunday – and at the movies!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring Forward

In 1784 during a visit to Paris, Benjamin Franklin published a short essay titled: “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” that proposed to economize the use of candles by rising earlier to make use of the morning sunlight.  230 years later we Spring Forward each year as we enter Daylight Savings Time.  That will happen at 2:00 a.m. this Sunday morning, March 9.

We will have the coffee and doughnuts ready to help you wake up and for those of you who are coffee connoisseurs Harvest now has O’ Henry’s Coffee available on Sunday mornings.

So don’t forget to set your clocks ahead an hour early before you head to bed – you don’t want to be late for an incredible message from Ted Lowe of MarriedPeople on the power of words.

And if you struggle to wake up on DST Sunday – you can thank Benjamin Franklin!