Practicing Sabbath, much like prayer or reading the Bible, doesn’t save us. We are saved by Jesus alone. But if we are not routinely reading Scripture or praying, it is unlikely we are growing much spiritually. Keeping Sabbath is a core spiritual practice – an essential means God uses to slow us down and mature us. In this podcast, I expound on ten core reasons Sabbath is so indispensable for us who lead in Jesus’ name: Sabbath is something God did, and being made in his image, we are created to do it as well. Sabbath was built into the DNA of the creation. Sabbath time is set apart as “holy” within God’s creation of a 7-day week. Sabbath helps us embrace our humanity, vulnerability, limits and finiteness. Sabbath protects us from doing violence to ourselves. It doesn’t save our souls, but it saves our lives. Sabbath reminds us God’s world is good, offering. Read more.
Discerning what season you, and your ministry, are in right now is one of our most important leadership tasks. Scripture teaches us there is a time or season for everything under heaven: There is “a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to weep and a time to laugh… a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:1 – 8). Discerning properly the season we are in determines our priorities, decisions and pace. Failing to do so results in all kinds of internal anguish for ourselves and unnecessary pressure on those we lead. In this podcast I will expound on the seasons of Fall (transitions), Winter (death), Spring (fruitfulness), and Summer (abundance), examining how each holds its own gift from God – if we cooperate with it. A number of questions, hopefully, will emerge for you out of this podcast. For example: What does it mean for you to. 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.
I am a great lover of books. I am also a believer that reading broadly and deeply is foundational if we are to offer good leadership in a rapidly changing and global context. Reading offers unique opportunities for us to grow, expand into worlds beyond our own, and to be mentored by people we will never meet. Here are my top 10 books from the last six months that you may want to consider adding to your list: 1. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis – Robert D. Putnam Putnam, a Harvard social scientist, has written a classic that I believe is a “must read” for church leadership teams. He explores in penetrating detail how rich and poor Americans are now living, learning, and raising children in increasingly separate and unequal worlds. Moreover, he shows convincingly that we are facing a crisis in that kids from privileged backgrounds are starting and finishing further and further. Read more.
Sadly, Advent is a low point spiritually for most Christian leaders. This was surely the case for me–especially in my early years. I was told Christmas was THE time we had to do everything possible to get as many people to the church. I was told that the number of visitors at Christmas Eve services would indicate our growth over the next year. I was also told this was THE time to close the financial year strong, THE time to thank all our leaders, and THE time for me to model reaching out to our neighbors for Christ. This results in very few of us actually celebrating the wonder of the Incarnation, that the truly divine Son of God became truly human mortal flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. Here are my top 4 Advent killers along with their antidotes: Anxiety. After thirty years of pastoring, I can now say with authority: “The growth and. Read more.