Archive

Archive for February, 2014

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 118

February 27, 2014 Leave a comment

118. Whoever believes, streams of living water will flow from within him (John 7:38).

This is how God works in us. He fills us from within. He causes our hearts to overflow with truth and love. He proves that His Kingdom is not external, but instead is revealed from within a man. Not that the Kingdom already resides in us or that we are born with a God-like presence within. But He cleanses us and makes His home within our hearts. He gives us life as we are born again. And that life springs up from within, overflowing the streets before us. This is the life, the new life, God desires to give to all those who believe.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 132

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

It’s not easy to stay on top.

This basketball season, I’ve watched from a 200-mile distance as my hometown college basketball team has done the unexpected and made it to the final game of their regular season without a loss. Thirty wins in a row! What an amazing run, and I hope it can continue all the way to the end of the post season.

But, I’m not writing you today to brag on my team. Instead, I want to show you that while it can be an arduous climb to get to the top, staying there can be even harder.

Every night, my team wears a larger-than-ever target on their back. The team that can end their streak will live in headlines, so every team brings their best into our gym. There’s pressure mounting too as more and more people file into the media seats, and the formerly disinterested now check every box score to see if the streak remains alive. Attention can be fun, but it can also bring extra stresses.

If you’re at the top of your game or even if you’re just having a particularly good week, the experience can be much the same. Expectations rise and those who would bring you down become more determined. And if you’re going to stay on top, there’s some things you have to do.

1. Keep working hard – The natural response to scaling the mountain is to take a deep breath, and maybe a nap. Rarified air has a way of going to your head and you can quickly forget just how hard it’s been to get where you are. So casual effort and carelessness can sneak in as you assume that life will be easier now that you’re dancing on the mountain peak.

2. Expect your enemy’s best – Those on top make easier targets. It’s easier to topple someone from a peak than from a plateau, and your enemy (God’s enemy too) has a vested interest in bringing you down. Here’s why many who reach the pinnacle of their careers find the stumbling easier. The enemy is now focused like never before and he’s coming with both barrels loaded.

3. Remember who strengthened you for the climb – Too many success stories end with the winner abandoning those he once held close. Spouses, children, colleagues, and God are all sacrificed for the revelry at the top of the ladder. But when you abandon your strength, well, you won’t have what you need to remain victorious. How sad to reach the winner’s circle alone.

Yes, we should give our best to the life before us, straining with great effort to maximize the gifts God has given us. But remember that winning has a way of making us careless. Giving your best may get you to the top, but you’ll need your best when you get there too.

By the way…GO SHOX!!

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 117

February 25, 2014 Leave a comment

117. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink (John 7:37).

There is a thirst that each of us feel, yet few can articulate. A longing for peace, for acceptance, for the possibility of halting the internal chase for…something. This inner turmoil drives many to risk, to attack or defend, to make choices that seem to ease the discomfort in the short-term, but elevate the future price. We’re thirsty for true satisfaction. We need something to calm the waters that daily boil within. Did those who heard Jesus that day understand that? Do we? It’s as though we long for a place we’ve never been. To that longing, Jesus says, “Drink up!”

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Outward-Focused Ministries – A Requirement for a Healthy Church

February 24, 2014 Leave a comment

When I was a kid, I liked playing with baseball cards, watching television or reading a good book, but my dad wasn’t always on board with my preferred ways to spend my leisure time. He would come home from work and tell me to “Go outside!” Now, he wasn’t trying to get rid of me, but he was convinced that fresh air was healthy for every boy. So I would reluctantly obey, and soon find myself have a great time with the neighbor kids.

Most of us have heard or even used the Dead Sea illustration. We know that while water flows into that sea, it has no means of flowing out. So the water sits, accumulates all of its salt in that one place–and nothing can live in it. Hence the name–Dead Sea. The water needs to “get outside” but it can’t and it doesn’t.

Too many churches are functioning in a similar fashion. While the occasional potential for new life flows in, all the activity is inside–no ministry flows outside the walls. The result? Dead Church.

If you want a healthy church, then outward focus is your recipe. The more we aim our ministries and our people into the community, the healthier and more effective our church will become. Inward focus fills the church with disease. Like the Sea, if the salt stays put, it just accumulates until even what’s inside begins to die.

But an outward-focused church constantly lives in the mission of Jesus. They encounter the brokenness of their community and connect with the needs that surround them–just like Jesus did. They can’t help but give their resources to help others, because the compassion of Christ is growing within them. They are becoming servants, because they are encountering the need to serve.

Outward-focused churches quarrel less and give more. When you’re making a difference, you don’t need to sit around and grumble at one another. Instead, you see opportunities for impact and can’t help but want to give to help.

Think of it this way: If you stopped by your grandmother’s house and found her yard had grown to knee-deep levels, you’d run home and get your mower. Well, when people reach into their community and encounter needs they have the means to meet, they give what they have to help get the job done. Churches on a mission have a way of attracting people who are looking for a mission.

So, what if you took some of your best ministries outside your four walls? What if you let your best Sunday school teacher take a quarter off so she could teach a parenting class on Thursday nights in a nearby community building? What if you took your excellent musicians and held a mini-concert in a local park? What if you aimed your church’s excellent cooks toward the local elementary school and filled the teacher’s lounge with their best baked goods? Take what you do well, and go outside with it.

When we begin to flow out into our community, something wonderful happens–we get healthier inside the church. People begin to rediscover purpose and God is able to use us to impact others, just as He intended when He established His Church.

So if you want a healthy church, go play outside.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples- 116

February 20, 2014 Leave a comment

116. What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me”? (John 7:36).

People often think they have what it takes to comprehend the ways of God, but until their eyes have been opened to spiritual things, they can’t make the journey. Jesus’ words aren’t simply an invitation to a geographical game of hide and seek, but He is revealing that their hearts are not ready to embrace who He truly is and; therefore, they cannot perceive the true trajectory of His life. Only when we believe will we begin to see the truth about Jesus and understand both His mission and His ultimate destination. Only by faith will we ever be able to find Him, and only by faith will we be able to go where He is.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 131

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

The capacity for evil.

This morning, we awoke to the news that a local 10-year old girl’s body had been found. Having seen the Amber Alert last night and knowing the available details of her kidnapping, our hearts were crushed that this story would end in such tragedy. I can’t process the horror her family faces or the horrifying events that filled the final hours of this little girl’s life.

This morning’s news posted a picture of the arrested suspect, and as I looked at that middle-aged man, I couldn’t help but wonder how a human being does such a thing. What sort of sickness or personal abuse launches a man on such a disgusting spiral that he would steal innocence and life from a child? Though our courts will do their best, there really isn’t a punishment that truly fits such a crime.

But the events also reminded me of the capacity for evil that resides in each of us. We think such evil is reserved for monsters, and perhaps it is, but one isn’t born a monster. Somehow life’s events can shape such a grotesque result in a man’s life. Somehow choices become darker and darker. Somehow the mind becomes convinced that such evil behavior makes sense.

The Bible tells us to “keep our way pure.” Don’t let evil in. Like God told Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door.” Now I’m not saying that small compromises with righteousness will lead you to kill the innocent, but those compromises will lead you somewhere. And that destination isn’t a place you’d really choose at the start of the journey.

Don’t think that small steps don’t matter. Every choice has a destination, even if it doesn’t have an immediate consequence. So choose wisely in the little things and watch them add up to the life you want. Choose poorly, and that path accumulates too, and may reveal a capacity for tragic choices you never thought you’d find.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 115

February 18, 2014 Leave a comment

115. You will look for me, but you will not find me. (John 7:34).

Apart from the obvious literal meaning here–Jesus will return to Father at some point–there is a lesson on spiritual leadership in these words. Those who are truly connected to God, cultivate a hidden relationship with Him. They are not always “on” or out front, like many who seek attention for themselves. Instead, they are hidden in significant times of prayer, pursuing the God they point others toward. Those who truly know God never place themselves in focus.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys