Thursday, March 27, 2014


I have been thinking a lot about courage in the past few days.  For one, it was a topic I taught on at a recent pastor's gathering on leadership in which I proposed that courage is one of the six key elements necessary for effective 21st Century Kingdom leadership.  

Second, I have been following the ebb and flow of the WorldVision decsions this week.  First they reveal their decision to make a change in their policy regarding the employment of gay married couples.  That was courageous!  But then, when the firestorm started as a result of their decision (which makes me wonder if they didn't anticpate that?), they backed up and reversed their decision.  That seems uncourageous to me, but some might say it was actually courageous to own up to their mistake and make the right decsion.

Regardless of how someone may feel about the issue, I am most interested in the leadership principle of courage here.  How do we arrive at decsions as leaders?  What forms of exploration and deep thinking are we engaging in that leads to making significant decisions?  

When we ask these kinds of questions, it seems to me that it comes back around to what must be our first priority as leaders - namely, what is the true source on which our decisions are based?  For those of us who are invested in being leaders in the Kingdom, that source is the Godhead, so we must be constantly seeking and listening in order to be the absolute best followers of God possible. Then when we make decisions, we act with courage from that place of deep conviction born out of our followership.

It seems to me that WorldVision made one of two mistakes, either they made their original decision without a deep sense of conviction, knowing that the consequences would be profound (again, they couldn't see that coming?!), or they allowed fear of the lack of approval from humanity to outweigh the depth of their original conviction - they lost their courage.  To say it another way, either WolrdVision's leaders didn't spend enough time "vetting" their decsion with the Father in order to cement their conviction, or they did, but just lost their courage in the follow-through. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"I'll say nothing."

I recently watched an intervview with Bono that was from a program in Ireland that explores faith and religion.  It was a very profound fifty minutes.

He basically spoke the truth of the Gopsel as the Risen Christ and shared how his relationship with Christ influences and shapes every aspect and component of his life.  

At the very end, the interviewer draws the conclusion (which Bono agrees with) that if he truly believes that Jesus is the risen Son of God that he will someday get to meet Him.  If that was the case, the question then posed was, "What will you say when you meet Him?"

I thought Bono's answer was brilliant:

"That will probably be the first time in my life when I don't say anything."

Our lives are so full of noise and we are pressed by so many concerns and burdens in life, it's easy to allow our prayer lives to be filled with the noise of our own voices.  What might happen if we realized that we are actually in the presence of the risen Christ and make a decsion to actually just be quiet for a change?

Fortunately, Lent is a season that invites us to enage in the discipiine of listening prayer....

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tenacious Humility

This is a phrase I have been thinking about for a couple of days so I thought I would put a few words to my thoughts.

First, I wrote last week about Unsettledness.  I think a contributing factor to that low, grumbling turmoil in the air is the general lack of humility we see in the space of public discourse these days.  It feels as though we have become a people, a nation even, of being so completely convinced of our positions that we are not just right, we are totally right.  And if someone would fein to disagree with us, clearly they are wrong - completely wrong.  We have decided that our postion is the moral high ground on everything, and therefore their position must be inferior.

Second, I believe this mentality has subtly and unfortunately wormed its way into the life of the church.  We believe we are competely right, and therefore that makes everyone else wrong.  

Here's the problem.  While we may be right about many things, there is a subtle dark side that results when we care more about our postion than we do the other person.  We make our lives more about "defending the right" than we do about loving the person we are attempting to win over with our argument.  And in the process we dehumanize them.  Instead of being a person, a fellow traveller on this journey of life, they become "them" or "one of those."

It is for this reason I believe one of the primary callings of God for His people, especially in these days, is to live with a tenacious humility.  

Those words may seem like they don't fit together, but I believe (because I'm right) that as we engage with people around us, and especially when we find ourselves perhaps at odds with someone on a particular issue or life choice, that we must remain tenaciously committed to embracing that relationship with a deeep sense of humility.

Around the circles of my denomination (The Church of the Nazarene) we often attribute Phineas Bresee, the founder of our tribe, with the following quote:

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; but in all things, charity (love).

While it is clear Phineas was not the originator of that phrase, the depth of meaning behind it is still, and perhaps even more, valid for followers of Jesus today than it has ever been.

We must, to quote another one of our heroes:

Be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

Friday, March 14, 2014


Yesterday I was thinking about this general sense of unsettledness it seems exists around me.  Then today I read these words from the Word:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (James 1:5-8 NLT)

What a powerful reminder that the source of unsettledness is actually a divided heart - and the cure is a loyal and undivided heart!

O LORD, on this day of Lent will you continue the process of mending my heart and making it fully devoted to You and You alone!  When the world attempts to entice my heart away from your attention, may the disciplines of Lent be used by Your Spirit to keep me focused on You and You alone!  


Thursday, March 13, 2014


The past few days I have had this general sense of unsettledness.  I have felt as though there are so many parts and places in our world that seem to have a general lack of peace about them - an unrest. 

Some of it is obvious to spot - Ukraine (or insert whatever other global conflict happens to be going on at the moment), the economy; political turmoil; etc.  

But some of it is much more subtle - the tension between people standing in line at the store, the general angst of a younger generation dissilusioned by their predecessors, the unrest I feel when my internet streaming has to buffer (ok, maybe that's a stretch!).

Regardless of the sources, for some reason I have been keenly aware of this feeeling of unsettledness.

Which I find completely appropriate for Lent.  

This is a season in which the followers of Jesus are invited into the space of unsettledness and uncomfortability.  As we are confronted with the shadow of the looming cross of Christ, we should feel uncomfortable.   It should be unsettling to us because we are taking time and creating space to allow the Holy Spirit to probe and point out the ways in which our lives don't measure up to the plum line of God.  We are confronted wiith the magnitude of the sacrifice in the face of our frailty. 

The question becomes, will we allow our unsettledness to create more angst, or will we let the Spirit blow and move us in the ways He desires - deeper into the loving arms of our Savior?  Will our discomfort birth more bitterness, or will we bring it to the cross and allow it to be washed with the beauty of His grace?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Lenten Prayer

Almighty God, you who call me to prayer, and who offer yourself to all who seek your face, pour out your Holy Spirit upon me today and deliver me from coldness of heart, a wandering mind, and wrongful desire. By the power of your spirit place within me steadfast love and devotion, so that today I may worship and serve you with all of my life; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

I need to have you warm my heart today, which I can already feel you are doing.  

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

I need to have you focus my mind, which I can already sense you are doing.

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

I need you to check my motives, which I can already tell you are doing.

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

May I love as you would love today.

        May my heart be fullly yours today.

               Today, may I worship and serve you with my whole life!

All through the power of the Risen Christ!

Amen - So be it!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Smell of Love

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  After our services I had a few people comment on how nice the mark of the ashes smelled and they asked me what it was.  This year I used some spikenard anointing oil to mix in with the ashes.  I didn't realize what kind of an impact it would have, but after the second comment on the wonderful scent I started thinking.

The mark of the ashes is the symbol of the cross so what smelled beautiful was the cross.  Even though the cross is an ancient torture and death machine, for those people who have made the decision to follow Jesus, it is the symbol of




And as we walked around yesterday, those of us who had been marked were spreading that beautiful aroma of love everywhere we went.

But thank God!  He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession.  Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
                                                                                       2 Corinthians 2:14

However, I don't think Paul intended for us to smell good from the mark of the ashes every day.  What we need is to allow the very fabric of our lives - the way we live, the way we deal with adversity, the way we conduct ourselves in all circumstances - to become the very smell of love to the world around us!

I hope I smell good today too.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Today is Ash Wednesday.  As I have helped faciltate our community gatherings today to celebrate and remember this day and the beginning of Lent, I have repeatedly said, "From dust you have come and to dust you will return."

At first glance this phrase from Genesis 3 (v. 19b to be exact) seems rather morbid.

Why would you want to tell people they will eventually die and turn back into dust?!

But when we take time to reflect a little deeper on this phrase, and we set it in the context of the larger season of Lent, we can see the real beauty behind it.

One of the things I love the most about this season, this day, and the marking of ashes in particular, is the powerful reminder it is that God is God and I am not!

I am temporal.

        He is Eternal.

I am problem.

        He is Solution.

I am broken.

        He is redemption.

So go ahead and mark me with the ashes, beccause they are just a symbol of who I am in light of Who He is!

And I am not afraid to show that.