Anxious. Frustrated. Annoyed. Angry. Resentful. These are emotional states that describe our leadership more often than we care to admit. Relaxed is not an adjective I hear often to describe us as Christian leaders. Consider this important case study of Moses. Moses worked and waited for almost forty years to enter the Promised Land. Having started with 603,550 men to manage — not to mention all the women and children — Moses’ and Aaron’s patience was repeatedly tested to the limit by a seemingly endless barrage of complaints. When the people cry about their lack of food and water and accuse Moses of bringing them out into the desert to die, Moses is livid. At this point, he is also exhausted and has little capacity to manage his anger and resentment. Imagine the scene as he loses his cool: The LORD said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather. Read more.
As with our time with Willow Creek New Zealand, we experienced a very full 7 days in Singapore, teaching 3 different seminars to over 500 pastors/leaders, and speaking to 1600 people at a large plenary session. We had the privilege to interact and learn from leaders from China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myunnmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei. How did God come to me/us? The groundswell of the life of God in Asia is quite distinct from our 35 years of leadership in the United States. There is an aliveness, a power, a passion, a creativity, and a movement of the Holy Spirit that is impossible to miss. The sheer number of Christians in China (estimates put it at 100 million) dwarfs North America. The center of Christianity truly has moved away from North America and Europe to Asia (along with Latin America and Africa). Emotionally Healthy Spirituality meets a profound felt need of. Read more.
Most Christians are more focused on the here-and-now than on the then-and there, i.e., our future life that is anchored in heaven (Heb.6:19). Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1647-1652) and his sculpture of Teresa of Avila. and the angel with the spear, portrays the following episode from her autobiography where she describes her encounter with God. We see in her a picture of our greatest longing: I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could. Read more.
Here are my final 3 books that have shaped my walk with Christ: Fill These Hearts, Christopher West All of us are here because of sexuality. God has built it not only into our bodies but into the core of the universe. To read Christopher West is to ignite one’s heart about all the ways God has given us to know Him and satisfy our deepest hungers. The study of God (theology) is built right into our bodies. Dance of Anger, Harriet Lerner I have found that anger is a very complex, misunderstood emotion and causes a lot of pain by being ignored and/or abused. We’re not any holier for stuffing it and worse off if we explode. Christians need to learn how to acknowledge and process anger. Lerner practically unpacks the emotion of anger. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer, David Benner David’s book brought me to heaven each time I opened it reminding. Read more.
If you had one word to describe Jesus, what would it be? Loving. Kind. Compassionate. Powerful. Generous. It is true that many words might fit. Dallas Willard, one of the most influential thinkers on spiritual formation in our day, offered his own word — relaxed. While the author who recounts this story felt the word unhurried was a better descriptor of Jesus, I believe Willard got it right.(See Alan Fadling’s very good book, An Unhurried Life). When you are centered in God, you are relaxed. Imagine yourself today leading and carrying your responsibilities today out of a relaxed inner posture. It may be the best gift you and I offer to those around us.
Benedict (480-547 AD) lived in the time when the Roman Empire was disintegrating. He founded a monastery near Rome around “a little rule for beginners” now famously known as the “Rule of Benedict” (RB). I reread this short, powerful work regularly for my own grounding, both as a leader and a follower of Jesus. Prayerfully consider the following, letting God speak to you through one or two of Benedict’s radical insights into discipleship/spiritual formation: 1. “This message is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will” (Prologue 3). 2. “Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service” (Prologue 45). 3. “Above all, he (the abbot) must not show too great concern for the fleeting and temporal things of this world…but should keep in mind that he has undertaken the care of souls for whom he must give an account” (RB 2:33-34). 4. “Your way of acting should. Read more.