Most leaders I meet with are overworked, tired, and weighed down with too much to do in too little time. Almost all are generous, sacrificial, and compassionate. Yet the pressure of ministry demands smothers their ability to listen deeply to God’s voice that speaks to the essence of the problems facing them. I know this too well. It is easy to rush headlong into quick-fix solutions to problems – hoping they dissipate, only to find out that we have now planted the seed of a new problem! What has happened? We have forgotten Sabbath and silence. These are the places from which we hear the quiet wisdom of God if we are to provide creative leadership for what is before us. Let me invite you to consider 3 biblical texts that I mention in this podcast, allowing them to breathe rest into your soul: The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the. Read more.
Instead of highlighting The Fastest Growing Churches, I recommend we highlight The Slowest Churches, i.e. those that help us most to slow down and pay attention to God, ourselves, and others. When our churches continually remind our people that “only one thing is needful,” we strategically position them to be a gift to the world (Luke 10:42). Here are 5 reasons why I believe this is true: Going slow makes possible… The doing of God’s best plans. I love the story, told in Wayne Mueller’s Sabbath, of a USA international agency in the 1990’s and their frenzied plan to address needs of a famine in equatorial Africa. In failing to be quiet, listen to the people, and study the soil, they developed a short-term solution that actually worsened the problem in the long term. We too are dangerous when we move at high speed. The receiving of Scripture in our hearts. According to Jesus,. Read more.
Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.
Jesus said we must lose our lives to find it. One essential way we do this is by learning the art of interior silence. This choice to turn away from internal and external noise in order to be with Jesus is work…a difficult work. Externally, we face the unrelenting pressure of our culture– the noise, the clutter, the grasping, the confusion, the distractions, the excessive amount of information – all of which make it difficult to hear ourselves think. Internally, our stillness and silence muscles are weak. As beginners, we have problems focusing attention and facing the normal distractions of body and mind. Just like we cannot simply read a how-to book on running a marathon and run, so we must build up muscle and stamina slowly over time. Maggie Ross, in her Silence: A User’s Guide – Volume 1: Process, argues that the tradition of silence was handed down unbroken from the time. Read more.
Silence and stillness are the two most radical spiritual disciplines that need to be injected into a paradigm shift of how we do discipleship in our churches. They are indispensable to slow our people down so they cultivate a first-hand, personal relationship with Jesus. My transformative experience with these disciplines took place in 2003 with a community of Trappist monks and the Taize Community in France. I remember sitting at Taize, and struggling, during the 8-10 minutes of silence that was part of each morning, afternoon and evening prayer. Yet my relationship with Jesus has changed dramatically as I slowly learned to integrate silence and stillness into my daily life. Scriptures such as the following came alive: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Ps. 37:7 Moses answered, “Do not be afraid… The Egyptians you see today you will. Read more.
Christmas is when we remember the staggering reality that God entered human history as a baby. It is also about receiving the new things the living Jesus wants to do in us now. Let me invite you to ponder the painting, The Visitation, by He Qi and his capturing of the great story in Luke 1:39-56. First, notice Mary’s right arm protecting her womb. She knows God is birthing a precious gift inside her. She thus makes a three-month visit to Elizabeth’s house after she becomes pregnant, seeking support and encouragement for this new thing God is doing in her that is about to change the trajectory of her life. What new thing might God be birthing in you that you need to protect? Who might be a companion, a peer, a godly friend, or a spiritual director who might be able to be an Elizabeth to you as you. Read more.