Find Your Focus

By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Paul Leadabrand
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Justus George
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Courtney Grimes
By Jessie Yearwood
By Jeff Black
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
By Sandhya Curran
By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
By Erick Rodriguez
By Jenn Wright
By Kevin Harwood
By Nandi Roszhart
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Albán Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

If you caught the Tony Awards last week, that says something about you. I don’t think anyone really “catches” the Tony’s. If you watched them you probably made a PLAN to watch them, and I am one of those jazz-handed planners. Stage acting is magic to me — the immediacy of it, the sorcery of a real person becoming another real-ish person, in real time, in front of other real people.

How does a performer achieve this magic? In his classic textbook on acting, Constantin Stanislavski wrote about a concept he called “solitude in public.” He’s talking to an actor in front of a huge crowd: “You are in public because we are all here. It is solitude because you are divided from us by a small circle of attention. During a performance, before an audience of thousands, you can always enclose yourself in this circle like a snail in its shell” (“An Actor Prepares,” p. 90).

A small circle of attention. A public solitude. The ability to enclose yourself in a privacy away from the glare of the lights and the buzz of an audience’s collective expectations and hopes. It’s an issue of focus, and it’s a hard discipline to practice for an actor. It takes years of endurance training. It’s also a hard discipline to practice as a Christian.

Christians, after all, are just people and people are naturally distractible, hopped up on busyness and carried along by their desires and fears. An actor focuses on an object or a person right there on the stage: the end of a pen he’s clicking, the petal on the flower in the vase on the table where he’s drumming his index finger, the green, sparkling irises of the person directly across from him. These points of focus help ground him and keep the immediacy of a scene. What’s been the object of YOUR focus today?

Scott Foundation 2

Maybe you’ve been hearing a lot about Foundation at IBC. It’s a 9-week experience designed to help you live in the rhythms of a disciple of Jesus. The word “disciple” sounds a lot like “discipline”, and that’s a daunting idea to many of us. But just like the actor who intends to create something real and beautiful on the stage, the Christian cannot escape what’s required to live a real, beautiful, immediate life — a circle of privacy with Jesus himself.  

An IBCer named Harry was asked to write about his Foundation experience. I love his vulnerability: “Before Foundation I was spiritually stuck. Through an honest examination of my life, I was exhausted from ‘doing ministry’ and not spending quality time with the redeemer of my soul.”

Can’t you relate? I can. Running around in front of everyone, going and doing and being, my inner self scattered to the wind, like a public machine without a private soul. This is my default setting.

But God has made a way for me to enclose myself like a snail inside a shell. Jesus called this “remaining” in him. “I am the vine; you are the branches,” he says. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When I remain in Jesus, the footlights fade, and the murmurs of a thousand people dissipate like steam.

Scott Foundation 1

Spiritual rhythms help cultivate this privacy with Jesus, this remaining; things like prayer, solitude, study. These disciplines focus us and enclose our hearts. Through Foundation at IBC, Harry has found huge riches through these things. He says God has shown him that spiritual rhythms are not only vital, but also a delight. “Jesus longs to spend time with me and invites me to walk with Him daily!” he wrote. I could hear his excitement from across the email interwebs. These are words of joy restored.

As we celebrate all God has done through this past Foundation season, I hope you’ll engage in an honest examination of your life. Are you operating out of a private connection to your redeemer, or just pushing to please a crowd?

There’s a more joyful, more immediate, more beautiful life available to all of us if we’re willing to find our focus.

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