Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The exchange was brusque. Words were said that will eventually need to be taken back although that is both improbable and difficult.

It happens all the time.

I have seen it again and again, and every time I see it, it is heartbreaking. It is prevalent among Christ followers who often impose their opinions on others who are seeking to find their way along the path. 

It often sounds like..."Yeah, but God has a standard and he wants us to live up to it." I agree, but there are ways to communicate that doesn't alienate people and minimize their desire to follow God.

Over the years I have seen people who have been around the church for a long time make careless broad sweeping statements to "strugglers" about what they ought to do and how they ought to do it.I have witnessed the carnage of those who have felt like giving up because of the demanding demeanor.

Francois Fenelon says it best...."Uphold a Godly standard, but admit when you uphold it in an ungodly way."

I want to be extremely careful when I attempt to uphold a Godly standard that I don't do it in an ungodly way. I want to be "quick to listen and slow to speak" in my journey as a Christ-follower. I don't want to impose my understanding of what God is doing in my life on the life of others. I want to be able to reflect His glory and allow others along the journey to hear His voice.

I have been guilty of "upholding a Godly standard in an ungodly way" at times in my journey. It has usually been at times of frustration and at other times it has been when I wasn't sure what to say and so I reverted to cliches and familiar jargon tinged with judgment.

I have also been on the receiving end of people who have attempted to etch their faith understandings on mine. It was not attractive or appealing, rather it caused a distance between myself, them and God.

So today I am choosing to live my life according to His standards as I understand them. I plan to give people plenty of room to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling." My prayer is that I will resist the temptation to behave in "ungodly ways" when it comes to "upholding a Godly standard."

Come people call this civility...I call it living authentically....

I am heading out to face the day...God, please guide my words today....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


"Don't live on the porch and think you in the house."

It is easy to go through life deceiving ourselves. Fenelon says it this way, "As you fool others, you fool yourself. You begin to believe the illusion you create."

Is there a difference between "porch living" and "house living?"

Today you are going to meet people who give you the impression that they are enjoying life, but just below the surface there is fear and anxiety. These are "porch dwellers." Somewhere along the line, they have become satisfied with living in the illusion they create. There is no longer a desire for authenticity, rather they have settled for a life of mediocrity.

Today you are going to meet people who are living out of the abundance of "the house." They have walked through the door and are enjoying what it means to live an abundant life.They are authentic pilgrims on the journey with a deep senses of who they are. In other words, they see themselves as God sees them.

As a child I can remember driving to my grandmothers house and pulling into the tree lined driveway. Jumping out of the car, I would run up the steps to the front door. She had a small enclosed porch and a door that opened into the kitchen and eating area. I still can smell the aromas, hear the sounds and remember her welcoming voice.

I just stayed on the porch and didn't go in. 

Are you kidding me? I threw open the door, ran in the house, tasted her cooking, laughed around the table, listened to the tall tales of those older than myself and gladly sat at the kids end of the table at meal time.

Why? Because "house living" living is a lot better than "porch living." 

Sadly, there are to many people who "live on the porch and think they are in the house."  Don't be one of those people today. Come on in the house! 

The psalmist understood the difference between "porch living" and "house living" when he penned these words, "Better is one day in your house, than a thousand elsewhere." Psalms 84:10

Monday, March 28, 2011


I am an early riser. I have not always been that way, but I am finding it easier to get up early and enjoy the quiet and stillness of the early morning. It is amazing to sit in the quiet and enjoy the peaceful moments before the day is unleashed.

Several years ago, a friend recommended a book to me. His description was, "this is the best devotional book I have ever read." (special thanks to Dr. Richard Wilson for your recommendation.) Now that is a heady recommendation with all of the books published to encourage spiritual growth.

The title of the book is, "The Seeking Heart" by Francois Fenelon. His writings reflect his work as a French Roman Catholic Archbishop, Missionary, Poet, and Spiritual Guide. 

I have read it several times and each time I pick it up in the quiet early morning hours something happens to me. I am reminded that although his writings are 300 years old, they still speak with a timely relevance to my life.

This week I will be sharing some of the insights Fenelon has given to me and how they have searched the crevasses of my soul.

Fenelon says, "An active personality, accustomed to lots of activity, will faint in solitude. Only when you are completely exhausted will you seek a quieter life." 

In an age of busy-ness and frenzied activity, solitude and quietness are foreign commodities. That is one of the reasons that I rise early. I have found a bonanza of blessings in the quietness of the morning. A quieter life throughout the day begins in solitude.

I agree with my friend, The Seeking Heart is the best devotional book I have ever read. I hope that my thoughts this week will whet your appetite to be "fully present in this moment." I hope you will rise a little earlier than you normally would and savor the quietness.

Keep your eyes open for Fenelon's thoughts early each day this week...

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have several friends who generously forward all kinds of email to me. Usually it is in the form of pictures, funny videos, or some health saving idea. Generally, I don't mind getting forwards, but it has caused me to think about how easy it is to get an email and think, "wow, everybody I know needs to see this!" Immediately I go to the forward button on my email, load up my address book and hit send. In seconds I have forwarded the email to others.

Now before you judge me, I do not stoop to this practice. Why? Because I am the recipient of forwards requiring me to scroll through a plethora of email addresses before I get to the bottom only to discover it is something that I have no interest in.

10 years ago a movie entitled, Pay it Forward was based on a novel by the same title. Both the book and movie highlighted the obligation to do three good deeds for others in repayment for one good deed that one has experienced. The purpose is to do something for another person which they do not expect or could not do on their own. The movie shows what happens as "paying it forward" becomes normative. The end result?" A society that becomes generous and ultimately a better place for people to live.

Which is easier? Pushing a button and forwarding an email to your entire address book, or forwarding a good deed? Sadly, in a world where it is easier to push a button, many good deeds go undone.

Recently, I was waiting in line at McDonalds. A disheveled guy walked in and ordered breakfast. Fumbling in his pocket he finally retrieved enough money to pay for his meal. While he was searching, I thought to myself, "pay for his meal, pay for his meal." All of a sudden a well dressed elderly couple got in line and ordered their breakfast in front of me. The gentleman reached for his wallet. 

My disheveled friend quietly held up his hand and motioned to the girl behind the counter. What happened next floored me. I heard the guy say to the elderly couple, "breakfast is on me, I have parents that are about your age that I seldom ever get to see. I never get to buy their breakfast, so breakfast is on me this morning."

Time stood still. I was breathless. The elderly couple stood their in shock. The counter girl didn't know what to do. The disheveled guy reached in his greasy pants pocket and took out a large bill and said to the couple, "enjoy your breakfast" and turned and walked away.

Pay it forward.

Interestingly enough, I can't imagine either the payer or the payee hitting "forward" on their email, but they certainly understand what "forward" means in real life.

Keep your eyes open today, you may have an opportunity to "pay it forward." And by the way, if you forward emails to me, I will still scroll through the sea of email addresses and read them. Maybe....

Saturday, March 26, 2011


As a kid I was amazed by my first trip to the circus. There were animals, jugglers, acrobats, trapeze artists and clowns under the big top. But perhaps the most entertaining were the high wire walkers. Even though they had safety nets below them, my eyes were riveted to their tentative steps high above the floor of the tent.

I could only imagine the danger of walking on the thin wire above the breathless crowd. My imagination ran wild as I considered the fearless high wire artist and his trek across the spotlight bathed expanse. 

Walking the tightrope is something we do everyday. We walk a narrow path between right and wrong, between integrity and expediency, between different shades of gray, yet we still are on the tightrope. There are moments when we fear we will lose our balance and fall off of the tightrope because of making wrong decisions. 

Sometimes the fear of falling is enough to cause us to fall. Tightrope walkers often talk about the width of the rope rather than the air on either side. They are so focused on the destination they don't look down at the thin wire.

All of this has caused me to wonder about the "tightrope" that we walk on. I have met Christ followers who were so paralyzed by fear of failure that they are unable to walk. They were petrified at the thought they might fall off of the tightrope. Every step was so carefully measured out, that they took few steps.

Recently I read that "being a Christ follower is less about cautiously avoiding sin than courageously and actively doing God's will."

St. Augustine, an influential Christ follower of the fourth century understood the "tightrope" when he said, "Love God and do as you please." In an age when we like to hear "do as you please" Augustine was able to frame it by saying, "Love God" is the starting point.

Today I commit to walking on the "tightrope" because of my intense love for God and the desire to pursue His will.  Am I worried about falling? Not so much. Augustine says, "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."  The tightope is calling....

Friday, March 25, 2011


Have you ever met people who were strong? I am not talking about a physical strength derived from long hours in the gym. I am thinking about people who have strength of character, people who are strong in their ability to do what they say they are going to do. I am even thinking about people who possess an inner strength which sees them through difficult times.

I have always felt like a strong person. I have felt like I came from "strong stock"and a heritage of strength derived from the generations who have gone before me.

Until recently.

Recently I have experienced moments of weakness causing me to rely on others and God.During this time I received a card from a friend with words that were a great encouragement to me. In recognizable writing, my friend wrote...

I am praying that God will use these redirected
moments to draw you closer to Him and help
you see the future clearer than every before.

With stunning precision his words pierced my heart and reminded me of familiar words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9

I like the words of my friend...."redirected moments." 

Have you ever had any of those?  What did you do when the path led somewhere other than where you planned?  What did you do when your moments were redirected?

I have done a lot of reading over the last two weeks. I have drunk from the wells of authors who have satisfied the thirst of my soul. My mind, heart and soul have been nourished in ways that would not have been possible unless my "paths had been re-oriented."

Several weeks ago I purchased Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. The Third Reich by Eric Metaxas. Because I direct most of the moments of my life, I have not had the time to read this book about one of my favorite characters from Christendom. Bonhoeffer's life was a series of "re-directed moments" eventually leading to his death in a concentration camp in Flossenburg.

Metaxas describes Bonhoeffer in a powerful way, he says..."(Bonhoeffer's) strength was borrowed from God and lent to others." p.463.

My prayer is, that in the words of my friend, I will "see the future clearer than ever before" because my "strength is borrowed from God and lent to others."

God, give me your strength and I will lend it to others...

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I cannot wait. After not being able to be with fellow pilgrims and journeyers for the last two weeks, I am excited about returning this Sunday. The absence is a result of pneumonia, a fall I suffered which required four days in the hospital and a two week time of rest at home.

There are some imposed limitations to what I can and cannot do on Sunday, but I am able to return to what I love doing more than anything else...telling stories based on The Story.

Leonard Sweet says, "The church’s failure to tell stories in a culture that talks in stories is a story in its own right." With that in mind, I am already thinking about all of the stories that have unfolded in the last two weeks in my life. Through all of them I have seen and heard the words of the Master Storyteller reminding me that there are still more narratives to unpack.

I guess the reason that I love stories so much is best captured in the words of Eugene Peterson..."We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have characters."

The thought occurred to me recently...What would happen if we cared for each others stories?  What would it look like for us to honor the stories in people's lives? What would happen if we did more listening to people's stories and less trying to get their story to look like ours?

So, I return this Sunday. Words are not adequate to describe my excitement and anticipation for Sunday morning at 10:45.

Here is the prayer that I am praying as I prepare for the gathering of pilgirms...

Oh, God, don't let my story get in the way of yours.

Not a bad prayer to pray daily...  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Imagine a high school student whose family is a part of a Christian Church. She belongs to a Christian youth group, has only Christian friends, reads only Christian books, and has to attend Christian chapel services, because it is mandatory at the Christian high school she attends. That student can potentially become so anesthetized to Jesus that she is unable to see Jesus as the stunning, dangerous, compelling, subversive, dynamic reality that He is. She has simply sung so many songs about Jesus that the Name has lost its power to provoke and inspire. Her "nearness" can actually produce "distance"...

We must be able to speak about our faith so that hands will be stretched out toward us faster than we can fill them. Do not try to make the Bible relevant. It's relevance is axiomatic...Do not defend God's word, but testify to it...Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity...

The first paragraph is from Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins and the second paragraph is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's writings.

We always skate on the thin ice of being so familiar with the things of God that we take them for granted. Our "nearness" can produce "distance" if we are not careful. Unchecked this familiarity can produce lethargy. Unbridled familiarity can produce a casual attitude toward the things of God.

As serious pilgrims on the journey we must speak about our faith in such a way that people will stretch their hands out faster than we have the ability to fill them. It seems in an age when we strive for relevance, perhaps we should strive for authenticity.

I have met lots of young adults raised in the church that fit Bell's description of the young woman. I have also witnessed a "distance" produced by "nearness" in people of all ages. There are many things I do not know, but I am certain that when we speak of our faith in compelling authentic ways, people of all ages will stretch forth their hands. Distance will be replaced by nearness and true community will be established.

My prayer is simple...let your Kingdom come!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Have you ever wondered if you were on the right path? Have you ever wondered if you are effectively fulfilling the purpose for which you were intended? Have you ever felt like you were "going against the flow" in your daily efforts?

These are questions that honest people ask themselves occasionally and there is nothing wrong with reflecting on where we are in our journey.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian, pastor and martyr, has been shaping my thinking recently in some profound ways. He was a part of the Confessing Church in the throes of Hitler's persecution of Jews and Germans during the Third Reich's destruction of Germany.

Bonhoeffer says, "If you board the wrong train, it's no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction." 

All of us at one time or another have been on the wrong train. How we respond when we find ourselves on the wrong train says a lot about where we are on our personal journey. 

Some are smart enough to admit they are on the wrong train and get off at the next train stop and make a course correction. Others run in the opposite direction along the corridor as if this will change the direction they are headed. Some just sit down on the train and give up.

Which one are you? 

It's never to late to change direction if you are headed on the wrong path...He is the God of "second chances" and "new beginnings."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Tuesday March 1st I posted a blog entitled "Judgment" in which I explored the "dust-up" surrounding the publication of Rob Bell's new book entitled, Love Wins: Heaven and Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. 

The pre-publication hype caused the blogosphere to explode as people made sweeping accusations before reading the book. It is disappointing when a person rushes to judgment and in so doing compromise their integrity.

Thanks to Kindle, I have read the book.

This is not the place to fully explore Bell's writings, but I wanted to share a couple of brief reflections.

First, you might be surprised by Bell's candor throughout the book. He writes with passion and persistent purpose as he reflects on the meaning of heaven and hell. Unfortunately, the kerfuffle about this book was limited to his treatment of hell. He explores heaven and hell from a biblical perspective and challenges the reader to examine what the Bible says about both. He intimates that often we know more about heaven and hell than what is contained in the Bible itself.

Second, the accusations made prior to the book's publication wither after one reads Bell's writings. His treatment of the historical church's understanding of heaven and hell may be surprising to some readers, however he traces their origin through sacred scripture and historical tradition.

The Preface is a masterful introduction to what Bell says in the remainder of the book. In my opinion it's worth the price of the book.

There are two quotes that grabbed my attention as I finished the book yesterday afternoon...

"...and I as well have a hard time believing that somewhere down below the earth's crust is a really crafty figure in red tights holding a three-pointed spear, playing Pink Floyd records, backward, and enjoying the hidden messages."


"Often the people most concerned about others going to hell when they die seem less concerned with the hells on earth right now, while the people most concerned with the hells on earth right now seem the least concerned about hell after death."

There is much to think about from Bell's writings. I do not agree with all that he says and there are some things that I resonate with. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, Rob Bell has presented a gift to the church. It is the gift of challenging us to think about our faith and ask big questions of a God who is bigger than us,the church and our questions.

My faith has not been rocked by Bell's writings, but it has given me pause to consider what I really believe. The God I serve is able to stand up to my puny inquiries and questions and still be God. I am not going to shock Him by what I think. 

I am thankful to be a part of a faith that allows questions, inquiry, dialog and doubt. None of these daunt or dent the faith, but they allow me to be strengthened in my resolve to join in the One who says, "the Kingdom of God is at hand."

Watch for an invitation to a theological discussion with others on the journey!

Friday, March 11, 2011


I am considering inviting Charlie Sheen to church. It kinda came to me at lunch today. I am not sure he will come or not, but it is worth a shot. (some of you that are reading this may never get to the rest of this blog)

Fast forward.

Imagine what would happen in your church if Charlie Sheen showed up. After wild looks, puzzled faces, sideways glances, he would probably take his seat to the horrored gasps of the faithful. I wonder what he would think?

Now before you get your exercise "jumping to conclusions," don't you think it would tell a lot about the DNA of your church if Charlie Sheen were to show up.

You see it is one thing to talk about "loving all people" and "hate the sin and love the sinner" and "our church is open to everybody," but it is another thing when that "everybody" comes in the person of Charlie Sheen.

We have seen the parodies, heard the quick one liners and have watched the seemingly downward trajectory of Sheen's life over the last several weeks. Nothing seems surprising anymore. Television news shows slurp up every sound bite, reality shows run outrageous video clips and serious newscasts have their "Charlie segment" nightly.

Fast Forward.

Charlie Sheen is sitting in my church....Now what? 

Should he have an opportunity to "share his story" and if he did would we wince at the words he uses? 

Should he be expected to "sit and soak" all that takes place in worship?

Or would his arrival in worship cause such a kerfuffle that all hope of having worship would be lost?

I guess I better figure out the answers to those questions or should I just go ahead and invite him?

One thing I do know for sure...If Charlie Sheen showed up in your church next Sunday it would reveal who you really are as a church. It would clearly define whether your mission and values are more than a plaque and bulletin filler.

Charlie Sheen sitting in my church....wonder what God would think?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


My light was blinking on my phone about three weeks ago when I walked in to the office. I am always a little apprehensive about who has left a message, I was especially so when I didn't recognize the number. The voice sounded familiar but I wasn't sure why the person on the other end would be calling.

I returned the call. To my relief, I received an invitation to return to the local elementary school to read to a kindergarten class that I read to a year ago. You never know how well you do when you read to a kindergarten class. They seemed appreciative but I think it had more to do with getting out of their regular kindergarten routine and having someone read to them.

There is nothing more I enjoy more than reading to kids. I read to my son and my daughter before bed when they were young. They had their favorite books and I enjoyed reading to them before they slumbered off to dreamland.

I miss reading to my kids before bed. It was always a special time. Realizing that they were growing past Dad reading to them at bedtime, I made a decision.

For Christmas, I went into a studio here in town and read my kids 10 favorite books. My friend took my readings and mixed them with intro music and closing music and put them in a jewel case with the book covers on the insert.

Christmas morning came and I gave my kids the CD with their favorite stories. Of course they burned them onto their IPods and listened to them. It brought me such delight to see the joy of hearing my voice reading familiar stories from their childhood.

Back to the phone call. Today I am heading to the local elementary school to read to a group of kindergarten students. I am reading one of my kids favorite books. I hope that they love being read to half as much as I love reading to them. I have made a commitment....I am never going to pass up an opportunity to read to kids. So, off I go...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The streets have been cleared in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Fat Tuesday is over and Ash Wednesday is upon us. Lent is the season of "giving up" or "fasting" as we anticipate the season of Easter.

In a culture rife with consuming and amassing things, Lent seems like a foreign language. Denying ourselves is not a value that comes naturally, but Lent gives pilgrims on the journey an opportunity to pause and focus on this season of the year.

Here is the prayer that I will be praying over the Lenten season:

God of second chances and new beginnings
I am always amazed
that you choose to use me for
your kingdom purposes
you use me as I am
Tending sometimes not to do my best
Prone to error
And very inclined to trip and fall

Always your grace 
is greater than my mistakes and stumblings
Thank you, O God
For using me in spite of myself!

Unfailing God
Remind me often that,
in your sight
failure is never final.

By your grace, enable me to deal with
my own failures constructively
and with the failures of others patiently.

Let it be so.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I am always interested in people's faith journeys and how they find their way along the spiritual path. 

I was caught by surprise while watching an interview of Newt Gingrich conducted by Greta VanSusteren, as he traced the steps of his journey into Catholicism.

"You have now converted to Catholicism-when was that, how long ago and why?" was VanSusteren's opening question.

Gingrich responded..."It was a long process. Calista was born into the Catholic church and is very very devout...she sings in the choir at The Basilica at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. 

As a spouse I went in a supportive way and over time being there, participating, experiencing the mass....

I tell people it wasn't so much that I converted as it was that 
I gradually became Catholic and one morning realized 
what had happened to me. 

My task is not to critique Gingrich's personal life, his political stances or his future in government, but I would like to think for a moment about his "gradual" entrance into the Catholic church.

Across many faith traditions there are "indicators" of one's entrance in the faith. Sure, there may be moments of transformation, but these are usually in response to a persons awareness of their need. When I listened to Gingrich describe his "gradual conversion" it causes me to wonder if this is the new norm. I wonder if people are phased into the faith or if there is still a declarative statement necessary to affirm ones desire. 

I wonder if more people are being "gradually converted" into the faith than those who would simply make a declaration to enter into the faith?

And I wonder if it is possible to be drawn into the faith in such a way that one day you wake up and realize that you are in the faith? Almost like a dawning awareness that supersedes any individual affirmations made along the way.

I am just wondering about all of used to be that you declared your faith, now it seems like more and more we are seeing people finding their way into faith and "one morning realizing what had happened."

Gingrich closes the interview with an insightful line...I wish it could be said of more churches and more faiths

I find that it (Catholicism) is a very nurturing and comforting experience and one which has made me feel more at peace than I have at any point in my life."

Whatever you think about the "entrance requirements" the results experienced by Gingrich are encouraging to me. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


Sloth, one of the seven deadly sins, is a general sense of spiritual apathy or lethargy. It is not opposition, rather it is a passivity leading to "wasted time." Acedia, the Latin word translated into  Greek means a general "carelessness." 
Time is a valuable commodity in today's economy. As we become busier and busier, it seems like wasted time is still a malady in our everyday lives.  I am not talking about being constantly busy without any "down time" but I am wondering if we use our time wisely.

Donald Miller, writing in Blue Like Jazz, says..."I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil, but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God."

Trying to be religious may be the biggest time waster most people face. Giving more effort to "image" rather than "substance" is another time waster. Pretending to be somebody that we really aren't? Time Waster.

Today there will be a lot of opportunities. Someone said it this way..."we don't really waste time, we waste ourselves." I don't want to do either. Enjoy every moment....and use them wisely.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


There are many things I don't understand about preaching...It is one of the most mysterious parts of my journey as a leader. I am under no illusion about my preaching ability or my capacity to put together meaningful sentences and narratives.

Recently I read about a retired preacher who was cleaning out the dresser when he found 5 eggs and $1000 in $20 bills.

Calling his wife he inquired about what it all meant.

"I saved one egg for every bad sermon."

"Whew, five eggs in all those years. 
Not bad, what's the money for?

"Every time I got a dozen eggs, I sold them."

Helmut Thielicke, a German Protestant theologian, insighfully pointed out, "The Gospel must be preached afresh and told in new ways to every generation, since every generation has its own unique questions. The Gospel must be constantly forwarded to a new address, because the recipient is repeatedly changing his place of residence."

Today I am going to try to "preach new ways" in an effort to forward His Message to "new addresses" and new "places of residence."

When I read scriptures like I Corinthians 12:1, I shake my head....

"For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."

And then in Romans 10:14...

"How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"

John Wesley's brother Charles encountered opposition because of his preaching and singing. Wesley's account reveals their dissatisfaction..."the day following at St. Ives, the service was broken up by the mob throwing eggs and stones..."

I am not sure which is worse...eggs stored in a dresser or eggs stored in a coat pocket waiting to be thrown. Hopefully I will not encounter either as I head off to the "safe place to hear a dangerous message." 

It is humbling to declare His words. My prayer is that my words will not get in the way of His this morning.

See you at the House!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Richard Foster has written widely on the topic of prayer and spiritual formation and is a reputable thinker who has provided insights for many on their spiritual pilgrimage.

Although I have read a lot of his writings, I am still stunned by the simplicity of his brief prayer...

" me to be at home with you."

These nine words profoundly shape the desire of my heart. These nine words express my authentic longing for His presence.

When I pray this prayer, it frees me from what Brennan Manning calls, "functional atheism" - the belief that nothing is happening unless we are making it happen. When I pray, " me to be at home with you," then I have the joy of waiting for His presence and voice, and that is a safe place.

God's response to our prayer?  Welcome Home!

Friday, March 4, 2011


What does it mean to live in the "in-between" times? 

Howard Hendricks, writing in Color Outside the Lines, says people either live in "the past with a museum of memories" or "in the future with an encyclopedia of expectations."

Leading in times like these can be challenging.

We are living at a very unique time in our culture as we have the benefit of memories and technologies beckoning us into the future.

Navigating through these "in-between" times requires unique leadership. Scripture is full of examples of "in-between" leaders. The public sector is replete with examples. Church and government have their share.

After observing leaders, "In-Between" leaders possess unique characteristics..
  • They have a road map embedded in their heart
  • They are brokers of resources
  • They are 'constant encouragers'
  • They are multi-taskers who are singularly focused
  • They are an original 'piece of work'
I can identify with these characteristics and the need to demonstrate them in our culture. At my "ages and stage" I feel the need to demonstrate these leadership patterns now more than ever.

Brennan Manning is a mentor to me. He says it better than I can say it, "The second journey (in life) begins when we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program." 

God's Word says..
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them. Hebrews 11:13-16

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Occasionally I get a glimpse of heaven. Yesterday I glimpsed the gates through the eyes of a person who nears her eternal reward.

The phone call came into the office yesterday and the message was passed on to me. Hearing the words of the message saddened and gladdened my heart at the same time

I was sad because we are going to lose a saint of the church, a real pillar of the faith. Gladdened because she will soon hear the words, "well done good and faithful servant."

I went over to her house and her 95 year old husband took me back to the bedroom where she was laying in the bed. Unable to respond, I called her by name and she opened her eyes. I tried to encourage her and even though she was unable to talk, I could tell that she was hearing the words I was sharing.

For several years she has affirmed her desire to "go home." She is very near to getting her wish. Holding her frail hand, I realized that she would soon touch the hand of God. It reminded me that God is faithful.

Walking out of the house I was reminded that what was happening in that home was of eternal consequence. I realized that she was getting ready to "go home." It also reminded me that she didn't need to make any last minute preparations, everything was ready.

Morgan Freeman's line in Shawshank Redemption says it all..."Get busy living or get busy dying..." My dying friend was "busy living" her entire life, now she is "busy dying" and heaven will be a better place when she gets home.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Non-Essential is an interesting adjectival phrase.  

The US Government is battling over budgets, taxes and cuts, all under the threat of a possible governmental shutdown later this weekend. Watching the news, the reporter said that Social Security, Protective Services and several other agencies would not be affected by this shutdown.

The only people it would directly affect is "non-essential" workers. 

How would you like to be classified as a "non-essential" worker?  I wonder what that would feel like knowing the work you do is "non-essential?" 

I have heard this same descriptor used when snow days make travel, work or school impossible. The announcement is made..."non-essential employees need not report."

All of this makes me wonder. Can the job be done with just "essential" employees or is it necessary to add on those "non-essential" types? Could it be that many of our budget woes would be solved if we didn't make these delineations?

In the place where I work, all people are "essential" to the ongoing work that we do together. I am not sure I want to work at a place that has "non-essential" workers. 

I have been thinking about a culture that would say, "you are a non-essential worker."  I am also trying to imagine what would happen if we could turn "non-essentials" into "essentials."

The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch. It's hard to see the difference between "essential workers" and "non essential" workers when standing under an arch.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Over the weekend a pastor posted his thoughts on the March 29th release of a book by another pastor. The topic of the book is a controversial one in today's theological discussions. 

Please remember that the book has not been published, and will not be until the end of this month...28 days from now. That did not stop the scathing comments or the interaction on blogs and other social media.

The most amazing comment was a brief tweet by a well known pastor who simply said "farewell" to the author.


I know that often promotional copies of books are sent ahead for people to read and review. The purpose is to create a "stir" so people will purchase the book when it is released. Book tours are scheduled so the author can briefly talk about his writings and autograph the book.

But the book has not even been released and vitriolic comments are flying around the internet and accusations are being made. Judgments are even being pronounced on the author and his ministry.

And, remember, the book has not even been released.

I just finished a book last night entitled, To Change the World, by James Davison Hunter. In the book he talks about some of the reasons Christians are not more effective in changing the world. When I read all of the comments about the book to be released on March 29th, it confirms what Hunter says in his book. 

He says, "If Christians cannot extend grace through faithful presence, within the body of believers, they will not be able to extend grace to those outside."

What would happen if we waited for the release of the book and then read the book? What would happen if after we read the book, we were charitable in our comments and thoughts? What would happen if we extended grace through "faithful presence" to the author of this book as well as others?

By now you are wondering about the title of the book and its author...Love Wins: A Book About Heaven and Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell. March 29th the book will be released and I will read it. Until then, the words of Dr. Bill McCumber, my former New Testament professor, are appropriate to all who have weighed in on the books content..."you might as well save your breath to cool your coffee." That's not a judgment...that's a fact.