Following Jesus is not first doing things for Jesus; it is first listening to him speak, and then doing what he says. Peter, James and John were the cream of Jesus’ leadership team. Yet when Jesus was transfigured before them, Peter was unable to resist making plans to maximize this exciting new open door. Fortunately, a voice from heaven shut him up, commanding him to listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:5)! It is easy to lead FOR God without listening TO him. The word listen or hear is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. That is why the most important question every one of us must ask throughout our days is: “God, how are you coming to me, what might you want to say?” In this podcast, I give specific examples of how I regularly apply this question to different areas of my life and discernment process. I apply it to: How I. Read more.
To allow Jesus’ and Scripture’s view of success to shape the way we lead is very, very challenging. Teaching about it is one thing. Living it is another. In this podcast, I offer three examples of how to redefine success in ways that look beyond numbers in different arenas: at New Life Fellowship, for an upcoming family wedding event, and in the ministry of Emotionally Healthy Discipleship. The remainder of the podcast then looks closely at the three factors necessary to internalize the kind of radical change necessary to make the doing of God’s will, regardless of where it leads, the measure of our success: A deep integration of silence and solitude A deep integration of Ignatius’ concept of indifference, remembering that a true surrender of our will to God’s will is a learned, struggled-for, and prayed-for obedience; and A deep theology of God coming in our limits. Here is Part 2 of this. Read more.
It is hard to be a Christian at Christmas, especially if you are a pastor or leader. These are at least five mistakes that we often make: We skimp on our time with Jesus in our work for Jesus. We speak of profound spiritual realities, but our hearts slowly shrink because we have so much to do. We become perfectionistic. We forget that to be human is to make mistakes. Eugene Peterson says it well: “Perfectionism is a perversion of the Christian way. To impose it on either oneself or another…is decidedly not the way of Jesus.” We do more than God asks. When we do more than God asks, we open the door for all kinds of disorder and chaos. We engage in faulty thinking. Mark Twain once said, “It isn’t what you don’t know that hurts you; it is what you know that isn’t so.” We forget our greatest gift is who. Read more.
Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.
This blog is an update from last year called Summer Spirituality. I re-wrote it because I believe this theme needs to be revisited each year by each of us, starting with me. The Bible teaches there is a time and a season for “everything under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). God has built this into the very fabric of nature’s seasons as we observe the cycle of death and newness every winter and summer. Our churches experience seasons. And so do we. These seasons are limits given to us by God. They are gifts from His hand meant to keep us grounded and humble. I have violated God’s seasons in my leadership more times than I want to remember. But treating our vacations, and summers, as mini-Sabbaticals can be powerful if we build this into our lives. The way we do this can be summarized in three words. Receive. Summers are a time to do less. Read more.
The word “listen” or “hear” is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. The problem is that it is easy to lead FOR God without listening TO God. That is why the most important question every one of us must ask throughout our days is: “God, how are you coming to me, what might you want to say?” The question then needs to be applied specifically to different areas of our lives. Let me provide you with a few examples of what that looks like in my life: Time with God. “God, how are you coming to me in Scripture and silence today?” At times he leads me to linger over a passage, a phrase, or a text for days – even weeks. At times he leads me to read whole books of Scripture in one sitting. While I practice 20 minutes of silence and stillness each morning, I am also listening to. Read more.