We have to acknowledge we are confronting a growing number of “American Dream” believers in our churches. They are believers in Jesus but not necessarily disciples. They’ve accepted Him as their Savior. They attend church faithfully. They contribute financially and occasionally serve. But they are not disciples (in the biblical sense of the word) who orient their entire lives to follow Jesus, surrendering to His will and love, allowing Him to change him/her for the sake of the world. Their decisions, priorities, and commitments are shaped by their pursuit of the American Dream for them and their family. A typical “Rule of Life” for a father of two may look something like the chart below: Os Guiness has written that, due to the combination of capitalism, technology, and modern communications, the most powerful civilization ever—a global culture—has been formed. This global culture is the beast (as described in the Book of Revelation) that threatens. Read more.
Most people in our churches are living off other people’s spirituality. In fact, many are imitating a spirituality with Jesus for which they have little first–hand experience. It is easy to live off the life of God in someone else (e.g. the Apostle Paul’s handkerchief, Peter’s shadow, or Elisha’s bones) than to have our own direct experience. Anointed sermons and worship can keep people excited about Jesus and in the pews, but that may still be second-hand. The question is: Are our people developing and growing in their own personal, immediate relationship with Jesus during the week? How can we know? That is much more challenging to measure than numbers and budgets. In our overloaded culture where people are so distracted and busy, this may be our greatest challenge to effectively impact our communities. How can our people give away something (i.e. Jesus) if they do not possess Him? We invest enormous time, energy,. Read more.
Rich Villodas, who is now Lead Pastor of New Life Fellowship, led one of the workshops at our recent Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference on “Emotionally Healthy Preaching.” Once again, it made a large impact on all who attended. One of Rich’s greatest gifts to the larger body of Christ is, I believe, in the art of preaching. The following is the core of what he shared: Preaching is foremost not about preaching. It’s about a life with God; a life of integrity, out of which we speak. This is the core of emotionally healthy preaching. Like many pastors and preachers, I love the art and science of preaching. I work hard for stories and illustrations that make biblical content accessible to our congregation. I work hard to understand the text exegetically. I think critically about how a passage of Scripture applies in our NYC context. All of these things are important. In addition to. Read more.
This past Tuesday I spoke at the Greater Toronto Prayer Breakfast to over 400 leaders serving in a wide variety of influential positions – politics, First Responders, church, para-church and nonprofit, marketplace, media and entertainment, etc. After a moving time of prayer for Canada, I shared about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS). While I was initially concerned how EHS might not apply directly to this broad an audience, I was taken aback from the wonderful response. I shared simply and freely for about thirty minutes. Here is an audio of the talk. I thought you might enjoy it or want to pass it on. Toronto Prayer Breakfast mp3 PS- As you know, our Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference (April 22-23) is filled. However, we are excited that we will be able to Live Stream the entire two days for free. You may want to consider setting up a TV and taking. Read more.
The “Rule of Benedict” (RB) is considered one of the classic works of Western literature. More importantly, it challenges the result oriented, numbers-driven, “strategic” leadership models that surround us. Again, I invite you to prayerfully let God speak to you his insights: 1. “The fourth step of humility is that in this obedience under difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust conditions, his heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it” (RB 7:35). 2. “Our holy Fathers read the full psalter (all 150 psalms) in a single day. Let us hope that we, lukewarm as we are, can achieve it in a whole week” (RB 18:2-25). 3. We must know that God regards our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words. Prayer should be short and pure” (RB 20:3). 4. “Sleep clothed. Thus the monks will always be ready to arise without delay when the signal is given; each will hasten to arrive at. Read more.
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.