Geri and I just returned, this past Tuesday, from an eventful, seven-day trip with our ministry partners (Ministerio Espiritualidad Emocionalmente Saudavel or MEES for short) in Brazil. I always journal after a trip around the question: “God, how did You come to me, and what did You say?” The following are the top four things I heard: 1. Gift. Every culture and country in the world reflects aspects of the beauty of God (see Revelation 21:24). Brazilians offer a joy, a warmth, an optimism, and a passion for life that is a wonder to behold. I heard God’s invitation afresh to marvel and worship Him for such creativity to place such amazing gifts in so many cultures around the world. 2. Global Church Shift. We experienced first-hand, once again, the shift of the church from Europe and North America to the global South (Africa, Latin America, Asia). The church in Brazil continues to grow. Read more.
We desperately need leaders today, particularly Christian leaders. How else will we effectively make disciples and bring Christ to the world amidst the enormous challenges confronting the church today? In Jesus’ commissioning of Peter in John 21:15-21, he lays down four indispensable truths about Christian leadership for us. They describe what I call: a shepherd leader. Jesus uses problematic humans like Simon Peter as leaders. Jesus addresses Peter as “Simon Peter,” reminding him he is more “Sandy” (up and down) than “Peter” (an immovable rock). Maybe he is first among the apostles because he is the chief sinner and the most broken? Be encouraged. Jesus seeks one quality from leaders above all else – love for himself. Three times, Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” This one simple, penetrating question is the first item Jesus wants on our job description. So simple, so clear. Be encouraged. Jesus gives us one major mission — to. Read more.
One of our greatest temptations as leaders is to want to be more, have more, or do more than God has given us. We discard the gift of God’s limits and take charge. We try to do things only God can do and attempt to fix people and situations only God can fix. This has consistently been my greatest spiritual challenge. When we cross over the line of God’s limits, symptoms such as the following surface: anger, tiredness, anxiety, frustration, judgmentalism, a lack of compassion, and discontentment. When we go beyond our limits, we end up in the Evil One’s territory and the consequences are severe. (Consider Genesis 3). Our loving union with God is disrupted and, like Adam, we end up hiding behind our over-activity. When we let go and surrender to God’s limits, however, we meet Him in surprising ways. I recently implemented a new practice that has served me to prayerfully. Read more.
I have had multiple conversations these past few weeks with pastors and leaders about the importance of healthy transitions, particularly as it relates to succession. Why? I am passionate about Jesus and the proclamation of His glory to the next generation. Over the decades I have repeatedly seen the destructive consequences of leaders who hand over power poorly. Andy Crouch says it best: “It is hard to think of many things that do more damage to an organization than leaders who have no plan for how they will hand over power…When leaders do not actively plan for the end of their power, and when we who are led by them allow them to indulge in fantasies of unending influence, they are idols, no matter how well disguised” (Strong and Weak, IVP 2016). I describe my own 4½-year interior succession process in the final 17 pages of The Emotionally Healthy Leader. Almost three years have. Read more.
Let me invite you to prayerfully watch/listen to an extraordinary sermon given by 3 women this past Sunday at New Life. This was one of those very rare moments when I have realized the inexpressible holy was among us. We were being offered a glimpse of the risen Jesus in brokenness, vulnerability, and suffering. God’s glory was passing by. And He removed His hand, allowing us to see His back (Ex. 33:20-23). Geri delicately and skillfully draws out the stories of these 3 amazing women and their journey with Jesus: Kim – rejected by her parents as “ugly” at birth due to a cleft palate. Fathima – a victim of domestic abuse. Marie – a Mom of two “differently-abled” (or “disabled”) children with myotubular myopathy. Every person in our church has a story, a beautiful story where the Living Jesus wants to intervene and reveal Himself – if they allow Him. My prayer is. Read more.
What does faithful political engagement look like as Christ-follower in the midst of the divisive, harsh, and acrimonious election year in which we find ourselves in the USA? My concern is that we not allow the world’s pressure to form us, but rather that we respond in a way that reflects and honors Jesus. In 1981, I spent three months in the Philippines during a time when the church found itself divided over the increasingly, repressive dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Some Christians vigorously opposed the government and were on the streets protesting and going to jail; others supported Marcos wholeheartedly. A very few others had decided to take up arms (taking cues from the insights of liberation theology). While the environment was fiercely anti-American, I was blessed to be visiting as an IVCF staff worker and allowed to listen in on their theological reflections in the midst of their highly charged, political environment. It. Read more.