Limits, Loaves, and Leadership

How we respond to the limits Jesus intentionally places before us is a core issue for every leader. The feeding of the 5000 (actually the 10,000-20,000 when we include women and children) offers us an opportunity for transformation – if we patiently allow this revelation of Jesus to penetrate us. It is the only miracle, except for the resurrection, found in all four gospels.

This summer God has invited me to patiently listen to Him through the John 6:1-15 account. The following are four of the insights I continue to ponder:

  1. Jesus intentionally places limits before us to mature our faith. One third of the account concerns itself with Jesus testing and growing their faith. He placed them in an impossible situation. What is an impossible leadership challenge before you today?
  2. Jesus is more than enough. Andrew said: “Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish, but how far will these go among so many?” Imagine if he had said: “Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish. I know You can handle it.”
  3. Even less than mustard seed faith unleashes the creative power of God. Even Philip’s faith, which started out okay, fell into unbelief by the end: “…but how far will these go among so many?” Jesus takes even the little, less than, mustard seed faith that we have and creates something totally beyond us.
  4. Trusting in Jesus – especially in impossible situations –is the core challenge of leadership. Jesus summed up the work of leadership in one simple sentence: “The work of God is this: to trust in the One He has sent” (John 5:29).   Jesus does not strive, grumble or grow frustrated. He offers the loaves back to the Father with thanks, and somehow, an amazing, invisible miracle takes place.

What impossible barrier or limit is before you? What might it look like for you to come and rest in Jesus, saying, “Lord, here are my five loaves and two small fish. I know You can handle this.”

Learning from the Church in Southeast Asia

Geri and I recently returned from a ten-day trip to Singapore/Malaysia, our fourth in the past five years. Habakkuk 1:5 describes the wonder of our experience there.

Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.

The following are a few highlights:

1.     The power and the size of the move of God in Asia is difficult to describe for us who live in North America. Every time I sat through worship, whether it was with the Pentecostal Anglicans, the Pentecostal Methodists, or the Assembly of God Pentecostals, I found myself in awe of the experience. (Oh yes, most everyone seems to be into Pentecostal in that part of the world – regardless of denomination).

2.     Pastors and leaders, along with the churches, face the same challenges we face in North America.

  • We are too busy. Our “being with God” is not sufficient to sustain our “doing for God.”  One staff team I met will be sleeping at the church this week since they are working till 3 a.m. each night completing their plans for next year! The notion of slowing down for Sabbath and Daily Offices are shocking to most.
  • We have compartmentalized our spirituality from our marriages and sexuality.  Very little discipleship exists in this area anywhere in the world, including Asia.
  • Emotional awareness and social skills are very weak and not integrated with our spirituality.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality strikes a deep chord in this part of the world. This past year, an outstanding team dedicated countless hours translating the EHS Course and Emotionally Healthy Day by Day (the Daily Office) into Chinese and Bhasa Malaysian.

3.     The work of EHS has grown so much that EHS appointed a National Director for EHS Singapore/Malaysia –Steven Loh. Steven, along with his wife Leslie, have been teaching EHS in Shanghai since our first visit in 2009. He is a retired CEO and passionate about EHS. Fluent in three languages, he will work closely with Eagles Communications in Singapore to follow up on the churches doing EHS in those countries.

4.     The launching of “Become an EHS Course Coordinator” met with a great response in both Malaysia and Singapore. We will be launching this in NYC on Sept. 17th for North America. The embedding of The EHS Course for spiritual formation, much like the Alpha Course is embedded for evangelism, is one of the great turning points in our EHS strategy. I continue to be amazed at how God led us here over the last two years.

I want to thank so many of you for praying for our trip. One of the great privileges of EHS being used around the world is that we are able to learn from what God is doing around the world.

So may we too, like Habakkuk, “watch and be utterly amazed.”

-Pete

Discover your sealed orders

God has a plan for each one of us. One way to discern our distinctive life is from the perspective of discovering our “sealed orders” from Him.

Sealed orders, historically, referred to specific written instructions given, for example, to the captain of a ship regarding his destination or mission. They were not to be opened until a specified time or place is reached. They were then opened and followed.

God has given each one of us sealed orders for our lives. He invites us to open them by paying attention to the little everyday things that give us life. God comes to us in so many ways when we are still before Him. A key way for me has been to pay attention to God coming through my body as I pray.

Author Sheila Linn simply and profoundly describes this process: “When I am in touch with the special purpose of my life in carrying out my sealed orders, I have a profound feeling of consolation or rightness and my whole body relaxes. I believe the sense of rightness expresses itself physiologically because the purpose of our life is built into the very cells of our body” (Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn, Sleeping with Bread, 21).

Discovering God’s special purpose for your life is a process. It’s impossible to anticipate everything we might encounter on the journey of following God’s will for your life, but there is one thing of which you can be sure – it will be take you to places you never dreamed.

-Pete

 

Emotionally Healthy Leadership Podcast: Marriage and Sex Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation led by Rick Villodas we dig deeper into the implications of a healthy marriage on a leader.  Pete and Geri Scazzero share from their experiences and the critical importance of cultivating affirmation in your marriage.   We hope you will take 16 minutes today to listen to this conversation and that you apply these critical principles into your marriage today. 

To listen to this podcast on iTunes click here.

Symptoms of the False Self

In my sermon yesterday at New Life, I preached on “Listening to the Small Screen” out of Colossians 3:9-14. God calls us out of living a “pretend life” that accumulates as layers over us as a result of our families of origin and our culture. To find love, value, and worth, we often become people God never intended. Part of the gift of salvation in Christ is a deliverance from our false selves into our true selves in Christ, living out our unique “sealed orders” from Him. 

Paul calls us “not to lie to one another” (Col. 3:9) which can be translated, “Don’t be false with one another.”  The following is the brief assessment I shared during the message.

The degree to which we are living out of our false, or pretend, self exists on a continuum that ranges from mild to severe.  We are all in process, including myself. Use the simple assessment below to get an idea of where you fall on the continuum. Note each one that describes you.

False Self-Assessment

  1. I am reluctant to admit my weaknesses and flaws to others.
  2. I look for the approval of others more than I should
  3. I am highly “offendable” and defensive when people criticize me.
  4. I often become harsh and impatient when things are moving too slowly or my expectations are not met.
  5. I say “yes’ when I would rather say “no”.
  6. I beat myself up when I make mistakes.
  7. I have difficulty speaking up when I disagree or prefer something different.
  8. I have a number of people I am struggling to forgive.
  9. My fears often cause me to play it safe “just in case.”
  10. My body is more often in a state of tension and stress than relaxed.

If you checked two or three statements, you may be living out of your false self at times. If you checked four to five, you probably have a moderate case of pretending to be somebody you are not. If you checked six or more, you want to receive this as a gentle wake up call to a deeper journey with Jesus!

 

Comment on The EHS Course by R. O. Ogbebor

I stumbled into EHL conference in May 2014 on biblegateway.com website and I immediately signed up to attend online. It was a life changing experience. Since then I have been on your website feeding on every free resource I can find. Having been a Christian for 20years, I have been made to believe that Christianity excludes everything emotions and to make matters worse I am married to an emotionally distant spouse who has been a church leader in one form or another. Though I know there is an element of lie to that belief system, I was so comforted and free when I attended the conference. I believe this knowledge is so lacking in our Christianity today. I would love to become an EHS coordinator to first help myself and also others. I look forward to when I will have an opportunity to become one. I live in Canada. Thank you for the work you are doing, it is indeed changing lives one after another. R.O

…read more

Comment on The Power of the Genogram by mattie

just came across this site ,looking for spiritual wellness for a friend and found a wealth of information for myself and her. cant wait to read more

…read more

The EHS Course

In August, the EHS small group curriculum will be released as The EHS Course with new covers, a new DVD, and a new name for the Daily Office book (Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day).

EHS Course Materials

I am deeply passionate for the world to be transformed by Jesus.  In fact, I was known in my early years as an Inter-Varsity staff worker as an evangelism specialist and open-air speaker on university campuses.

Our mission at EHS is to equip the church in a deep, beneath-the-surface spirituality that transforms people who transform the world. Without spiritual transformation taking place in our people, our long-term mission for Christ will be severely limited.  To transform the world for Jesus, we need to be transformed by Him first.

 
What Alpha is for evangelism as a centralized course to introduce people to Jesus, EHS is for spiritual formation. The EHS Course will enable churches to embed transformational spiritual formation in their culture long-term and open the door to the larger paradigm of all that EHS offers.
 
The EHS Course is a serious course offered in a safe, comfortable environment that respects each person’s journey.
 It asks people to:

  1.  Leave a superficial, shallow spirituality.
  2. Open up their interior world so Christ can transform it.
  3. Develop their own personal relationship with Jesus and not live off other people’s spirituality.
  4. Read the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book and meet with Jesus twice a day for 8 weeks through EHS Day by Day.

 
The EHS Course DVD’s are of such high quality (thanks Zondervan) that they alone are worth watching for an outstanding introduction to the key themes of EHS.

Let me invite you to our “Become an EHS Coordinator Training” this Sept. 17th at New Life Fellowship Church. The goal is to equip one, and/or a team of coordinators, for each church so they can embed the course into their church throughout the year.  Our hope is to offer the same training in other locations in North America this year.
 
Join us in praying for this very exciting launch!
 
Blessings -
 
Pete

The Power of the Genogram

The “Genogram Your Family” tool is one of the pivotal tools we use at New Life Fellowship Church for deep, beneath the surface transformation. Jonathan Walton shared this poem at our Sunday services on July 20th about the profound impact the genogram had on his life.  Enjoy!  – Pete    

Poem – by Jonathan Walton 

Poetry is my release
my shield from all grief
my refuge to which I retreat when this world is too much for me
Phrases on pages are the language my mind speaks
metaphors and similes
poetic elements I just breathe.

My name is Jonathan Walton and I want to tell you about my genogram.

A Genogram is a map of our family looking back.
We take note of the values and stakeholds
The do’s and don’ts of our households
of our cultures
And then you compare it to the Gospel.
Because there are some things our family hold dear that don’t agree with
the family of Jesus
In fact there are some actions and practices that we hold closer than the
love of Jesus and a Genogram helps us see them.

I come from a family where some want Jesus, taught me to love Jesus and
for these I am deeply grateful.

I also come from a culture that ducks emotions, stuffs emotions because
someone told us if you put emotions low enough surely they would die. But
they don’t.
Because emotions are like the plates under oceans and when they shake
they cause earthquakes and cause tsunamis in our lives.

So when there’s infidelity and cheating, abuse, murder and drug dealing – I
looked around and all of the feelings were gone. Stuffed under couches,
behind handkerchiefs and in coffins.

Three lies became laws in my heart: get of it, move on, be a man.

Get over it, move on, be a man.
Get over it – be emotionally absent.
Move on – it’s okay not to be present.
Be a man – get married and then sleep with as many women as you can.

Get over it – what you feel isn’t important.
Move on – teach others to stuff it too.
Be a man – life is all about you.

Then, I did my genogram – looking three generations back on both sides.
Taking notes on the truths and the lies. Premature deaths and amazing
lives. Seeing things I was told not to look at and seeing blessings for the
first time.

Get over it – but now I can’t.
Move on – where do I go?
Be a man – I actually don’t know what that is.

There are systems in my family that cause emotional poverty
poverty of being and community that if I perpetuate will be present in my
marriage and my children…and get worse.

and if I want that to change then I need that change to begin in me.

Get over it – no, I’m going to therapy.
Move on – no, I’m going to counseling.
Be a man – okay, I’ll be like Pete, Rich, Phil, Redd, Greg, Jason, Chris,
Ray, Orlando, and David.

Strong, vulnerable, steadfast and meek to teach boys to actually become
men so they don’t stay adolescent like I was.

Yes, I am my father’s son but I’m also Our Father’s son and because of His
first begotten son, my wife and coming son will know the love his Father
and Our Father too.

So, poetry is still my release
But God is my shield
and He holds my grief
He is my refuge and retreat
When this world is too much for me

His phrases on His pages are His messages of freedom to me.
I exchange my life for His and receive His Holy Spirit
The mighty rushing wind is all I want to breathe.

See Jonathan share his words on video http://youtu.be/mJWltBLjobg.

For more information on Jonathan Walton and his work in NYC visit http://nycurbanproject.com/2014/07/my-release-after-my-genogram/.

 

Our Marriages are meant to be…

Our marriages are meant to be our first ambition in life. 

When we marry we make a vow to love our spouse exclusively until we die. That vow informs every decision we will make the rest of our lives.

When a man or woman take a monastic vow, they take years to move through a process that typically takes 6-8 years. First, they are observers, then postulants, and eventually novices. After that they take temporary vows, usually for two to three years, until they finally make permanent vows. At that point, they change their name, divest themselves of all their wealth, and commit to be part of a particular community the rest of their lives. 

Every decision they make from that point forward is informed by that vow. 

In the same way, if we are married, we have made a vow. That vow informs every decision we make. The pace of the church, and our commitments, take into account our call to be a sign and wonder for Christ through our marriage. We publicly vowed to make visible something invisible (the love of Jesus for His church) through our physical, earthly relationship. 

For this reason, if we are married, our first ambition is not our work as pastors or leaders. It is Jesus and our marriage. These are inseparable commitments for all married people – especially leaders. All our fruit for Christ flows from this fountain of love. 

Pete