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Tag Archives: powerful

The Illusion of a "Strong" Church

What looks like great strength is actually great weakness. What appears to be great weakness is actually great strength. We think a “strong church” is big in numbers, powerful in influence, has great programs, lots of money, great buildings, a gifted staff, and tens of thousands of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followers. As Jean Vanier says, the push of the world is to pretend we are big. We are not. We are extremely,  fragile, dependent, and vulnerable. Paul learned a hard truth over many years and though much pain – that “God’s power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9). What will it take for me, for us, to deeply learn this and thus become the change our world so desperately needs?

The Relaxed Jesus

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.

Learning from Angelina Jolie

For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than the are the people of the light. (Luke 16:8) I was deeply moved by a front page article in the New York Times yesterday, along with Angelina Jolie’s editorial a day earlier, about her courageous decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. She writes: “On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved…I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience.” While Angelina does not, as far as I know, consider herself a Christ-follower, we can learn a few things from her. Leading out of brokenness and vulnerability is powerful. She went public on an issue few Christians have been willing to talk about. We are imperfect human beings with limits. Beautiful and rich as she may be, she humbly acknowledged that she is. Read more.

Taize and Ash Wednesday

On Wednesday night this week, at 7 pm, New Life will host a Taize, Ash Wednesday service. I have been praying and pondering this possibility for over eight years. In the summer of 2004, Geri and I, along with our four daughters, spent a week in Taize, France with a monastic community of about 90 men. About 5000 young people from Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds also participated.  I learned3 simple, powerful truths that week: 1. There is only one church and it consists of people from all three main branches of Christianity – Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant. Brother Roger, a Lutheran pastor, founded Taize during World War 2 to be a prophetic sign in the midst of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians killing each other on an unimaginable scale. What unites us is a personal faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to Scripture as outlined in the Nicene Creed.  This. Read more.

Hurricane Sandy — A Pause

Each day brings new stories and images of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. An old friend had his house completely washed away in the storm. He had built it himself. The following is from his e-mail to me two days ago: “I’m having trouble accepting this all as the will of God…The realization that everything a man has worked for in his whole life has been washed away in just one 2-3 hour period. I don’t know, but I wish I did.” Sandy is an invitation to pause and ponder. The following are a few thoughts out of my journal from this past week: 1. God is Greater and More Powerful than I Realize. He remains “seated on his throne, high and exalted” (Isaiah 6:1). The force and size of a hurricane is humbling. 2. You and I Are Not in Control of Our Lives or Destiny. Take another long look at the roller coaster. Read more.