The command to give thanks is one of the more difficult spiritual practices to integrate consistently into our daily lives. Why? Part of the reason is that most of our families and cultures are strong on complaining, criticism, and fault-finding. Yet few are strong in expressing thanks. So when Scripture highlights that the sins of our families goes back three to four generations, we forget this applies to being grateful as well. The first U.S.A. Thanksgiving celebration was born out of a time of great hardship and sorrow. On September 16, 1620, 102 passengers sailed for religious freedom and a better way of life on the Mayflower, landing in Massachusetts. By spring, nearly half of the original group had died. Nonetheless, these Pilgrims held a feast of thanksgiving to praise God after their first harvest in 1621. How were they able to give thanks to God as the source of all goodness in the. Read more.
I love our evangelical stream in Christian history and would not be here writing or leading without it. Yet our emphasis on activity, now joined by the speed of change around us, has resulted in Christ-followers and churches without much depth. We need to learn about slowing down for loving union with Christ in a way that is powerful enough to transform us – and the people we serve. This requires we travel into different territory outside our tradition as evangelicals/Protestants and learn from church history and other Christians very different than ourselves. Let me invite you to download this free e-book on why church history matters for a discipleship that deeply changes lives in our churches today. It represents the fruit of over twenty years of study and thought. And I pray that the powerful truths on these pages will profoundly change your life and leadership as they have changed mine. Warmly, Pete. Read more.
70% of the leaders in the Bible did not finish well. Many contemporary leaders don’t finish well either. The question is why? I begin this podcast by looking at Saul, the first king of Israel. He is charismatic, gifted, and intelligent. He is a leader of tens of thousands. However, his walk with God gradually deteriorates into jealousy, stubbornness, and a hardness of heart. And he finishes very poorly. People Who Finish Well: 1. Develop a deep, inner life with God over time. Whether they are going through good times or bad, successes or failures, victories or defeats, they remain steady, cultivating a secret history with God in Scripture, community, solitude, worship, prayer, etc. 2. Have 10-15 mentors over their lifetime. They consistently seek out mentors for different areas of their life and ministry. They invest the necessary time, energy, and money required, learning from mentors, coaches, therapists, spiritual directors, or more experienced leaders.. Read more.
I have been an avid reader and lover of history since college. And I have learned a lot from Scott Sunquist, a close friend for the past 34 years since our days in seminary together. Scott went on to get his PhD in Asian Church history and missiology, and is now a Professor of World Christianity and a Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary. I recently sat down with him around the question: What are lessons we need to learn today on how the Holy Spirit has expanded God’s kingdom these last 2,000 years? Here are a few of his insights: Look for the life of Jesus on the margins. From Jesus and the 12 in Galilee, to the surprising growth of Christianity among slaves in North America and the Caribbean, to the church explosion among farmers in northern Korea in the early 20th century, to the launch of the Pentecostal movement at Azusa Street. Read more.
Human beings have always been in a hurry. God has never been in a hurry. God waited a very, very, very long time, after Adam and Eve, before He called Abraham. God waited almost two thousand more years before entering human history in the person of Jesus. God (in the person of Jesus) waited almost 30 years before beginning his public ministry. God waited to gather and disciple the Twelve. God waited through his arrest and crucifixion rather than call on the legions of angels at his disposal. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, we discover stories of God teaching his people patience. Abraham had to wait 25 years. Joseph waited between 15 and 25 years. Moses waited until he was 80 years old to begin his ministry. Israel waited 40 years in the wilderness. It was Tertullian (204 AD from North Africa) who wrote that, when the Holy Spirit descends, patience. Read more.
I have invested my adult life in studying and understanding Christian leadership. I’ve attended conferences, earned advanced degrees, and read broadly – for decades. But I cannot recall any discussion of discretion. For the first 500 years of the church, discretion was considered the most precious gift, or charism, for the church (John Cassian’s Conferences). They understood that without discretion individuals and communities could easily be ruined. In fact, all abbots of monastic communities were to be distinguished by discretion (The Rule of St. Benedict). Without it we are dangerous – speaking too freely, giving people burdens they cannot bear, and offering superficial spiritual counsel. Discretion is the opposite of our 21st century leadership culture that emphasizes bigger, better, and maximum impact as quickly as possible. Discretion is the ability to wait to see what unfolds, to not act. It involves the humility and patience to know when to leave things alone, knowing. Read more.