Jesus compared His kingdom to a mustard seed – almost invisible, apparently powerless, defeated, and insignificant. Yet He assures us it will grow into something magnificent that will cover the whole earth (Matthew 13:31-32). This smallness was a scandal then. It is a scandal today. In our efforts to copy the ancient great cities of Rome, Athens, and Corinth, and our desire for “real disciples” who aren’t like Peter, James, John, Thomas, and Judas, we end up chasing after goals that aren’t His. We easily miss His movements. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) is a mustard seed that has rediscovered and applied a few simple biblical truths. For example: Slowing down for loving union with Jesus is the foundation of all leadership. We are to lead out of a marriage, or our singleness, as a sign and wonder for Christ. Spiritual formation requires we break the sinful patterns of our family of origin and culture. Read more.
Bruce Gangnier’s sculpture of Moses Striking the Rock captures the one of the great temptations of leadership. Moses was commanded by God to speak to the rock so his “church” (2-3 million strong) might have water to drink. Instead, out of great frustration and anger, he struck the rock twice with his staff (Numbers 20:7-12). Moses never sees the Promised Land. Many of us miss the joy and peace of leading others in Jesus’ name (our Promised Land) because we are anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated and tired. The people get their water, as the Israelites did, but we pay a steep price. I have struck the rock more times than I want to count. Why? There are 2 temptations: 1. To build our own kingdom. We become unsure if we can trust God to grow our churches. So we help Him along, initiating programs and ministries to move the church along without consulting Him. 2. To force things because. Read more.
This past week I presented two workshops at “the largest gathering of church planters in the world” – at the Exponential Conference. Over 5000 people attended while another 20,000 leaders watched through a live webcast. It was extraordinary to see so many men and women with a passion to serve Jesus and offer their entire lives to advance His kingdom in the 21st century. I was in awe of God as I listened to speakers and learned new things about what God was doing in different parts of the world. As I interacted, however, with young pastors, missionaries, superintendents, and denominational leaders, it became readily apparent (to me at least) that at least four temptations threaten to derail what God wants to do through His church going forward: 1. Drivenness – Cattle are driven. Sheep are led. The word doesn’t belong in our vocabulary. The primary call for us as preachers/leaders/pastors is to embrace a. Read more.
Like most leaders I tend to work too much. My family didn’t do play. We worked hard. I naturally bought this into my leadership for Christ over the last 25 years at New Life. Jurgen Moltmann’s, A Theology of Play (out of print of course), has the best theology I have read on this topic. The following are his few nuggets of gold from his book as described in Ben Witherton III ‘s, The Rest of Life: 1. Play foreshadows the joy of the eschaton where all manner of drudgery and disease and decay and death will be left behind. It is not useless activity. 2. Play is a celebration of life lived to its fullest. 3. In play we emulate God’s actions who did not create the universe because it was a necessity. God is playful. He enjoys creating and playing. 4. “Play relativizes our ‘over-seriousness’ toward life, filling us with a spirit of joy. Read more.
Every third Wednesday of the month our pastoral staff takes a Day Alone With God. Each person finds a park, beach, a quiet place outside their home to intentionally spend time in silence, Scripture, etc. Take a look at Rich Villodas’ recent blog called “Yes, our pastors get paid to pray and rest about his experience and to see specific instructions he gave our staff just last week around that day. As I look at my schedule, however, I realize I have moved to Days Alone with God almost weekly. And I wondered why? I believe it relates to the unique season of transition in which I find myself. We are in the final year of my stepping back from the role of Lead Pastor at NLF to a Teaching Pastor/Pastor-at-Large role. (Go to Pete’s Transition for the congregational announcement of our four-year process). It has been wonderful and a joy to coach Rich (along. Read more.