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.
We want deep churches where people are transformed. We also want wide churches that grow rapidly in numbers. The problem is that these two values are often incompatible. Think about it. Let’s say you are committed to bridging racial barriers in the church. That requires you slow down enough to listen to people’s stories, to ponder the complexity of structural and personal racism, to wrestle with issues of power and privilege, to read history and perspectives different than your own. Let’s take sexuality, singleness, and marriage. You can offer a class for 300 people at a time, touching broad theological issues at the 10,000-foot level. The problem, however, is that the issues are highly complex and nuanced. Each person and marriage has personal questions and struggles that require one-on-one conversations. The very preparation for this kind of formation slows you down. Think about the breadth of what is involved in a person’s formation in. Read more.
Our 3 country, 6 city tour. First up was New Zealand. What does an “emotionally healthy speaking tour” look like? What are the unique factors that have to be built in – at least for us? How does the gift of limits apply to us as we step into this new arena? We arrived in NZ with a full cup and began a 3-city tour, in different parts of the country, each separated by a plane flight. This was akin to getting on the bus “SPEED” – with fifteen-hour days (EHL seminar from 9-4:30 and a 7-9:15 EH Marriage Seminar in each city.) We thought the travel days would be recovery days but they turned out to be a different kind of “work” – traveling by car and plane, encountering storms and 2 days of lost luggage, along with the unpredictable factors that come with a new culture. By the end of the week,. Read more.
Geri and I arrived in NZ with a full cup and began a 3-city tour, in different parts of the country, each separated by a plane flight. This was akin to getting on the bus “SPEED” – with fifteen-hour days (teaching an EH Leadership seminar from 9:00-4:30 and a 7:00-9:15 EH Marriage Seminar in each city.) We thought the travel days would be recovery days but they turned out to be a different kind of “work” – traveling by car and plane, encountering storms, 2 days of lost luggage, as well as the unpredictable factors that come with being in a new culture. By the end of the week, we were sadly exhausted. Too many people, too much work, and too little silence and downtime. Partnering with WillowCreek New Zealand was a joy. The issue revolved, primarily, around our decisions. We asked ourselves: “What does an “emotionally healthy,” global partnership, speaking tour look like? How. Read more.
Like most leaders I tend to work too much. My family didn’t do play. We worked hard. I naturally bought this into my leadership for Christ over the last 25 years at New Life. Jurgen Moltmann’s, A Theology of Play (out of print of course), has the best theology I have read on this topic. The following are his few nuggets of gold from his book as described in Ben Witherton III ‘s, The Rest of Life: 1. Play foreshadows the joy of the eschaton where all manner of drudgery and disease and decay and death will be left behind. It is not useless activity. 2. Play is a celebration of life lived to its fullest. 3. In play we emulate God’s actions who did not create the universe because it was a necessity. God is playful. He enjoys creating and playing. 4. “Play relativizes our ‘over-seriousness’ toward life, filling us with a spirit of joy. Read more.
Lauren Winner, herself an author of a book on Sabbath, says that in spite of a bumper crop of books on Sabbath observances in the last ten years or so, “it’s unclear . . . that many people are implementing them.” A Jewish young-adult organization called Reboot launched a “Sabbath manifesto” offers us the following ten recommendations that I appreciate: 1. Avoid technology. 2. Connect with loved ones. 3. Nurture your health. 4. Get outside. 5. Avoid commerce. 6. Light candles. 7. Drink wine. 8. Eat bread. 9. Find silence. 10. Give back. I think Abraham Heschel had it right: He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to. Read more.