Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Love Vegas

Love Vegas

We love Vegas…then we hate Vegas.

The electricity, the excitement, the energy, the entertainment…all of which make up that Las Vegas experience which people come from miles away to see and feel. 

But then…

We hate Vegas.  Our team didn’t win, and we lose money on our bets.  The dealer had 21 after we split 8’s.  The Roulette wheel wasn’t cooperating.  The clubs and bars served too many drinks.  People replace sleep with a steady supplement of drinking, gambling, and sinning.  People then become angry, tired, and overcome with discontent.   

Before we know it, disgruntled people are everywhere, and they totally get us down. 
So whether we’re visiting Vegas, or for those of us that live in Vegas…we can’t help but think about how much better it will be when we get out of Vegas, where people are happier and we can actually enjoy ourselves again.

I lived in Vegas five years ago, and hated it.  I was far away from my closest friends, most loving family members, and everything that was familiar to me – the “South”, Florida, enchanted theme parks, oceans, lakes, and more nice people, per capita (so I thought).   

I spent the better part of a year, working in one of the nicest hotel/casino resorts ever built, Wynn / Encore Las Vegas.  Some of the brightest minds, most creative visionaries, and best operators in my field were in the offices next door, down the hallway, and across the conference room table from me…yet I couldn’t see that.  All I saw was the negative, and what Vegas lacked.

I moved back to Florida, and was quickly reminded that angry people, discontent, and sin are not indigenous to Las Vegas.  I was also reminded that I’m not in charge, and no matter how many books I read and regardless of how much schooling I have – I can’t do this on my own.  Not even close. 
The truth is…I spent a few seasons of my life thinking I could…”do it on my own”.  I thought, “I’ll go get the promotions at work”.  “I’ll go get the degree from business school.”  “I’ll be irresistible because of all my accomplishments.”

False.  False.  False.  And…false.

Three years ago, after spending a few months with no job, nor that “career path” I had dreamed of, ironically the place I did find a job was Las Vegas.  I packed up a U-Haul in Windermere, FL, and trekked back across the country, to Vegas.  The town I thought was NOT for me; the place in which I vowed never to live…ever again…because I hated it…was now home, once again.

When I arrived, I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t do this…again.  No way, can I live here and work here, and put together any kind of life or career.”  “I can’t possibly actually like this.”

Yet in these past three years:
  •  I’ve been inspired by the people around me, more than in any other place I’ve lived or worked.
  • I’ve embraced the opportunity to create and contribute, to ultimately add value to my company
  • I’ve been moved by pastors and worship services at my church (and others), having read more of the Bible than in any other time in my life. 
  • Though I fall short often, in my daily walk, I strive to be more of a Christian now than ever before.   
·      Not only have I found love, I’ve learned more about how to love, than in any other time in my life.

I found all of this…in Las Vegas.  If all this can be found in Las Vegas, it can surely be found in Anywhere, USA.

This post isn’t about me…nor is it about Vegas.  
It’s about LOVE.

My point is this:  

People often say, “I could never live in Vegas…because I’d be afraid it would darken my heart.” 

I just want to share with the OneMoreStepRevolution community that if God can show up, in a big way, on the Las Vegas strip, He can also show up on your doorstep, wherever you live.  He’s with us and He is for us, regardless of our current zip code.  And He loves us, not because of how awesome we can be, but instead, He loves us anyway and in spite of our habits or hang-ups.

You and I can’t possibly do this thing on our own.  We can’t.  But LOVE CAN. 

God’s love can open doors, change people, and fill hearts with even more LOVE.  When we replace the love we have for our own accomplishments and self-image with genuine, compassionate LOVE for others, once darkened hearts quickly become full once again…no matter where we live.
If I can find all of this in Las Vegas, I’m convinced that you and I can find it anywhere. 

“All we need is love…love is all we need.” – John Lennon

Two for the road…

My church, in Las Vegas, Central Christian Church, has recently embarked on a mission to take its ministry and reach to new heights.  Our tag line for our journey is simply, LOVE CAN.   
It’s our thankful response to what God’s love has done for us, and our faithful response for what we believe God’s LOVE CAN do to further our ministry.  On September 29th, we held a church service which we called “Pack the Mack”, at the Thomas & Mack center. 

Over 15,000 people literally packed the Thomas & Mack Center, to worship…smack dab in the middle of Las Vegas.  Proof that if God can show up in this way, in “Sin City”…chances are, He can show up wherever you and I may find ourselves today…and tomorrow. 

Three Years Ago...we tipped the Cross-Country Tram Trip - 2010
Three years ago, I was in between jobs…out of work.  One of my best friends, Matthew Glenn Olsen, opened up his home and invited me to stay with him until I found the next adventure.  He didn’t have to do that…

On this date, in 2010 – Oct. 29th  -- When I was offered a job back in Las Vegas, Matt not only helped me pack up the U-Haul (and clean out his own garage, which was FULL of my stuff), but he also volunteered his time making the cross-country drive with me.   

I’ll never forget those three days, traveling across the United States with Matt.  We laughed…I may have cried…I was a nervous wreck, as usual.  Most importantly, I’ll always remember why he jumped at the chance to help…he did it with LOVE, encouraging me the whole way.

And…we do love Vegas.

Have a great day.