Your best, most fruitful decade of your life will be in your 60’s. Your second most fruitful decade will be in your 70’s. Your third will be in your 50’s. How might that perspective change your priorities today? I know you are in a rush. God is not. His kingdom really is like a mustard seed. It starts out insignificant, powerless, apparently defeated, and marked by suffering and death. It appears nothing is happening. It is almost imperceptible. We want the glory of Rome, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus. And we want it now! Jesus didn’t build quickly. He chose 12 country bumpkins from Galilee. One didn’t work out. He was not in a rush.
FIRE – By Judy Brown What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would. So building fires requires attention to the spaces in between as much as the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and absence of the fuel together, that makes fire possible. We only need lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way. Reflection: When in your life in the past yr. have you piled on too many logs? When. Read more.
T.S. Eliot noted in Four Quartets: “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Reading broadly helps us as lead from a a broader place of life, from a place of reality. The following are two short books that I read recently that helped place my life more accurately within “reality.” The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death is about about a French, 44-year old father and husband who was editor-in-chief of Elle magazine. He writes by blinking with his left eye as he lay dying in a hospital as a quadriplegic. Having suddenly lost everything through a rare disease, he finds himself trapped in a body that will not work. His final reflections on life are captured here in painful clarity as he finds himself utterly alone before he dies. The Wave is written by a wife who loses her husband, two children, and parents in the cataclysmic tsunami of December 26th, 2004. Read more.
As part of our month-long celebration around my transition, we invited Gordon MacDonald, one of my long-term mentors to speak at New Life this past weekend. He is now 74 years old. Among the many gifts he offered out of his 50 years of pastoral leadership, were his reflections that a deep, healthy church includes people in every stage of life. Every decade, he argued, has a question. Teens-Who am I and who am I becoming? 20’s-What am I going to do with my life and with whom? 30’s-Now that I have all these responsibilities and obligations, how do I manage all these priorities? 40’s–Am I a success or a failure? 50’s –As I move into the second half of life, who is this younger generation that wants me out of the way and how do I cope with the disappointments in my life? 60’s-How much longer can I do what defines me or. Read more.
A friend recently asked Pete and I for some of the books that have most shaped our journey with Christ.I was surprised at how easily several came to my mind. I noticed a couple things: I follow authors more than books so each author is a person whom I respect and resonate with. I love books that, for me, are profound but nuanced in very practical ways. I read them more than once. I read them slowly and prayerfully. Here are my first three: 1. Let Your Life Speak… Parker Palmer 2. A Hidden Wholeness….Parker Palmer These two books articulated for me the essential truth that life is lived from the inside out. Leadership/churches can have all the “best” programs in the world but if one is not in touch with the interior movements of their heart, then life is just a matter of adjusting chairs on the Titanic. Doing must flow from being.. Read more.
The center of Christianity is endings and new beginnings, death and resurrection, leaving and launching into new unknowns. Last Sunday, at our NLF Annual Vision meeting, I took 30 minutes to update our church on my process of transition at New Life Fellowship as I move from being the Senior Pastor (after 26 years) into a new role as a Teaching Pastor and Pastor-at-Large. It has been an awesome experience. I hope this video encourages you to be responsive to God’s invitation, at different seasons of your own life, and to let go as He leads — for the sake of His glory, other people’s development, and yourself.