I will become brutally honest with MYSELF first. I will admit what I am really thinking, really feeling, and what I really want. I will declare my truth to others, not fearing what they think, because it is a gift to be told the truth. That truth can be as simple as “I don’t want to eat at that restaurant” or “I don’t want to see that movie”, or it can be as big as “ I am afraid of your reaction” or “I was deeply hurt that you did not call” or “I lied to you.”
Lance Armstrong’s public apology this past week drew severe criticism for being incomplete, tentative, evasive, and lacking in true remorse. Yes, he admitted some things, but he still seemed to be spinning. Most people were unimpressed. I related to Lance Armstrong and was impressed. Why? I understand something of the deep, cunning nature of sin in my own life and the long process and stages of repentance. I also understand a little about the challenge to distinguish the complex, interior movements of my own heart. Tyler Hamilton, his former friend and teammate, reminds us of his own journey in coming clean. He too lived years of denial and lies around his use of performance-enhancing drugs. “When I first started telling the truth, it came out like water trickling out of a faucet,” Hamilton said. He talked about his early stages of admitting his guilt — the pain, the incompleteness, and the slow and brutal. Read more.
“Unspeakable horror” is the best phrase to capture the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. 26 people killed, 20 of whom were only 6-7 years old. There are no words to say. We pray for the victims, their families, the shooter’s family, and all those affected. We grieve with them. We join the three friends of Job as they arrive after innocent Job suffers his unspeakable horrors and longs to die. Scripture tells us that his friends “began to weep aloud…Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13). God invites us to be silent before this massacre, acknowledging the severe limits of our understanding. Our God is good. He is alive on the earth hidden amidst all of history’s unspeakable horrors. Let us remember the three friends got themselves. Read more.
This is the a segment of the opening talk Geri and I gave at our Pastor’s/Leader’s Marriage Pre-conference yesterday around a biblical theology of Marriage and Leadership. Beginning with our inadequate theology of marriage and leadership, we expound on the truth that as goes the leader’s marriage, so goes the church. It was our most recent attempt to present clearly this radical biblical paradigm that Scripture calls us to lead others out of our marriage. Enjoy. How might such a truth transform our churches and culture?
Geri spent fourteen years pondering the eight I Quits. Then we spent almost two years writing the book, excavating the biblical foundations and complexity of the material. We spent quite a bit of time reflecting on our journeys with these truths, looking at how they have become so intricately interwoven with our walks with Christ. This past week (Jan. 9, 2011) we began an 8 week sermon series at New Life to expand on these truths.We see I Quit as only an introduction to something much larger and far-reaching — on all levels (for leaders, pastors, communities,parents, singles, marriages, etc). They are essential if we are going to truly lead our churches to become life-transforming communities for Christ. The problem is so vast that there is no other way. Enjoy this recently published article from the Washington Post. “I quit!” I told my husband. “I’m leaving our church. This no longer brings me life. It brings me death.”. Read more.
I recently finished Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry (IVP,2008). I enjoyed it thoroughly and found a number of valuable insights for my own leadership at New Life. I recommend it to you. One unique insight was to clearly articulate the values of your leadership team as you enter into challenging, difficult discussions. The following is my first draft for our NLF staff team (Her team’s can be found on pp.176-178 of her book). 1. Personal Spiritual Transformation – We consistently labor to maintain balance in our lives as leaders, ensuring that we have time for prayer, rest, healthy relationships (play) and work. Our rhythms are our first work and foundational for both our lives and leadership. 2. Community – We are a microcosm of the larger New Life and seek to maintain and build unity in our relationships as Christ did with the Twelve. While the work itself can easily distract us away. Read more.