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Category Archives: Contemplate

5 Common Mistakes Pastors Make at Christmas

It is hard to be a Christian at Christmas – especially for pastors and leaders. Why? We can blame the culture, the powers and principalities that want to cut us off from Jesus, or the unrealistic expectations people place on us. While these are indeed factors, the primary responsibility rests with how we understand our role as leaders. These are 5 common mistakes we make: 1. We skimp on our time with Jesus in our work for Jesus.  As a result, we preach revelations about the eternal Word of God assuming human flesh without the time to swim and worship in the wonder of it all. The pressure of too much to do, in too little time, causes us to push a button into an “autopilot” spirituality. We speak of profound spiritual realities, but our hearts slowly shrink. What can we do? Follow Jesus by going off “to a solitary place and pray” (Mark 1:35).. Read more.

Be Still… The Lord Will Fight for You

Moses understood that when we are still, God fights for us. When the Israelites were under enormous pressure from Pharaoh, he said: “Do not be afraid… The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Ex. 14:13-14) One of the greatest gifts we can offer the church, and the world, is a return to the biblical practice of silence and stillness. But like Moses, we must learn it first. All religions practice silence. What makes silence unique for us is that we are silent before the Lord. For unless we learn to be quiet in God’s presence and not simply talk, how will our relationship with Him develop any depth? How will we hear Him? The core of the EH Spirituality Course and the EH Relationships Course is about equipping people to be with Jesus in silence, stillness, and Scripture. We do. Read more.

Emotionally Healthy Vacations

Vacations offer a unique opportunity to integrate and apply our theology. But like all areas of discipleship (e.g. relationships, sexuality, work, singleness, marriage, retirement, money), this requires intentionality. Otherwise, we fall into the pattern of doing vacations like our family of origin or the wider culture. Each of us comes into vacations differently. Some of us, for example, have small children, aging parents, a special needs child, or severe financial constraints. Moreover, each of us has a specific temperament, personality, and set of passions. Last year, I wrote a blog entitled Turning Your Vacations into Sabbaticals, applying the principles of weekly Sabbaths to our vacations. Here I want to offer you five words, or principles, that have helped Geri and I structure our “vacations” each year: Prayer. This is so obvious that we easily miss it! Take time to be still before the Lord and listen (Ps 37:7). You may be surprised. Thoughtfulness. Wise. Read more.

Elijah – Leading from Silence

Elijah understood that silence and listening are the starting points for true, authentic spiritual leadership. Without it we lead from our own mind and ideas. But the only way to listen is to deeply engage the radical spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude – the most challenging and least experienced disciplines in the church today. Elijah lived in the desert for years – dependent on God alone for food and sustenance without projects or programs. The silence and solitude positioned him to listen and be formed into the leader God desired.  The longer he remained in the silence of the desert, the more free he became to follow God’s direction. Studies say that the average group can only bear silence for 15 seconds. Most of our personal lives and church services confirm this. Yet it is essential that silence and solitude become a regular and normal part of our days and weeks. How else. Read more.

Mother Teresa’s Nobel Prize Winning Rhythm

In Stephen W. Smith’s recent book, Inside Job, he cites the Rule of Life Mother Teresa laid down for her nuns in their work among the sick and dying in Calcutta. It reads as follows: The Sisters shall spend 1 day in every week, 1 week in every month, 1 month in every year, 1 year in every 6 years in the Motherhouse, where in contemplation and penance together with solitude she can gather in the spiritual strength, which she might have used up in the service of the poor. (p. 344, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light) Imagine 1 Sabbath day every week, 1 Sabbath week every month, 1 Sabbath month every year, and 1 Sabbath year every 7 years.  What I like best about this is 1 Sabbath week every month! Every one of us ministers among the sick and dying. Yet we consistently underestimate how much emotional/spiritual life is flowing out from us.. Read more.

Beyond an Airbrushed Spirituality

To airbrush something is “to prettify or sanitize something” by means of an airbrush. I asked a photographer friend if he could airbrush my photo.  Here is what he came up with:                   Now I may “feel” like I am the younger version of myself on the left. I may have a vision for it.  But it is not reality. I am the man on the right. It is important we ask ourselves: “How might I be participating, or even encouraging, an airbrushed spirituality?” Unconsciously, it is so easy to do. I know. I’ve done it. As long as we had good weekend services, good attendance, and good programs, I felt okay. The problem was I ignored the reality that: 85% of Christians admit to being stuck in their walk with Christ. They are not experiencing transformation in our churches. The sexuality of people inside the. Read more.