Can we make biblical, deeply changed disciples of Jesus without learning from the successes and failures of our church family over the last 2,000 years – and from the global church today? The answer to both those questions, I believe, is no. Unfortunately, many of us have a limited, often mistaken understanding of how the church unfolded since the book of Acts. This lack of historical memory has done great damage to our approach to discipleship as well as our leadership. This podcast traces the history of Christianity, looking at the two great splits (in 1054 and 1517 A.D.) and how this has impacted us in evangelicalism today. I conclude with two simple, but profound, applications: 1. Be a humble learner. We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, especially those who are very different than us. We also have so much to learn from the. Read more.
Henri Nouwen, towards the end of his life, articulated a core struggle for every leader. He described the two different voices that come to each of us. One voice constantly pushes us to succeed and achieve, and comes from below. It was the voice he spent most of his life heeding. It led him to make decisions and plans without God. He taught at prestigious Ivy League universities. He wrote a book a year. He kept an active speaking and ministry schedule. But his spiritual life was suffocating. He was praying poorly and living isolated from people. The other invites us to listen to God’s voice. This voice reassures us we are loved without conditions or performance. We have nothing to prove. Our primary goal is to recognize the Lord’s voice, his face, and his touch in every person we meet. Only in the last ten years of his life, Nouwen said, did he. Read more.
Embracing transitions is one of the critical leadership tasks every leader must master if we are to do God’s work, God’s way, and in God’s timing. Sadly, endings and transitions are often poorly handled in our families, ministries, organizations, and teams. When this happens, we miss God’s new beginnings—both personally and in the ministries or organizations we lead. While our culture views the endings in transitions as a sign of failure, i.e. something to avoid, God views them as maturing discipleship moments to receive His new beginnings. Scripture requires we embrace God’s 3-phase process: Endings: Nothing new takes place without an ending. A real ending—a final death—often feels like disintegration, falling apart, a coming undone. It feels that way because that is what death is. Waiting: No one enjoys waiting. But waiting for God is one of the most important things we do in the Christian life. Letting the Old Birth a New Beginning:. Read more.
I love reading. I read a few books deeply and slowly (#1 and #3 below). I read others quickly (#9 and #10). Regardless, I seek to remain open for God to speak to me in unexpected ways. The following are my top 10 picks for the second half of 2017 that you may want to add to your list for the coming year: 1. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 – Frederick Dale Bruner. On most days, as part of my Morning Office, I set apart an extended time to meditate on the Gospel of Matthew. I do inductive Bible study with a double-spaced manuscript of Matthew, marking it up with different colored pens. I then study each text by slowly reading Bruner’s commentary. I have been in Matthew now for almost two years. Bruner is, in my opinion, one of the most insightful, scholarly and devotional theologians alive today. I can’t recommend this. Read more.
Few times in the year present more pressure and stress than the week before Christmas and Easter. In fact, the demands feel so overwhelming that we often lose our own center in Jesus. So allow me to offer, in a few words, three reminders that may help you this week: Jesus wants you more than your leadership. You were called. Chosen. You didn’t initiate your discipleship. He did. Why? First, to be with you, to enjoy loving union with you. Any work we do for him is to flow from that place. The Eastern Orthodox church, historically, has placed a healthy emphasis on breathing and prayer as a tangible way to abide in Jesus. Close your eyes for a few seconds now. Inhale and exhale slowly, and allow his love to wash over you. Jesus is building his church – not you. Jesus said: I will build my church and the gates of hell. 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.