fuel

At $4.00 a gallon, gas is like gold. I catch myself being careful to not spill a drop when I tank up.

Fuel for the vision God has given us is much more valuable than gas for my car. In order to see something great accomplished in life, you have to possess a never-say-die vision and some system of keeping that vision moving forward. The system is what I consider as the fuel.

Some things that motivate and nurture my leadership vision are:
• Team members who share the vision and participate in its development and fulfillment.
• Sound bites of people affirming the possibility and necessity of the vision.
• Glimpses of success: considering my vision includes positively impacting the lives of people, I get a charge out of seeing individuals and families making progress.
• Hearing about others who are fulfilling a similar vision. If they did it, we can do it.
• Stories of people overcoming obstacles similar to the ones we are facing.
• People who are willing to sacrifice; blood, sweat and tears, to see the vision succeed.
• Mile markers: signs along the way that let us know we are going the right direction and making progress. These are the little victories that make up the bigger vision.

This is my fuel, high octane and super high grade.
Without it, I have a tendency to lose sight of the vision, become discouraged and run out of gas. With it, I can go for miles.

What is your fuel? You had better have a full tank as you move forward.
Be motivated today.
And take time to motivate someone else.

Poodwaddle.com

When you get a chance, check out Poodwaddle.com. It features a compelling little tool called the world clock. It measures events in the world, as experienced in a specified amount of time.

In the time it took me to write this post, (as fast as I can type) the following events took place in the world:
Births: 644
Deaths: 289
Abortions: 249
Cancer incidents: 67
Marriages: 269
Divorces: 55
STD/HIV/AIDS: 21

Sobering. Makes me want to get on with getting something done. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Ephesians 5:16 (The Message)

The parking lot nazi

I went to the dentist yesterday, I hate the dentist (not the guy, the experience). His office is part of a larger medical office group that shares a common parking lot. The doctor’s office next door is having problems finding spaces for their patients to park, so they hired an old guy to chase the dentist’s patients off. If you pull up on their side of the lot, he runs up to your car and starts harassing you until you move, no exaggeration. It is quite a sight to see. He sits there in his little lawn chair under an umbrella reading a book. Just act like you are thinking about parking on their side of the lot and his ears perk up. He starts licking his chops because he can see an unsuspecting dental patient coming his way. He springs into action. Like a lion on his prey. And he is effective. The kill is merciless and swift.

The last time I was there, I had a run-in with him. I did wind up parking in his “no parking zone”, but it came at a cost. I left feeling less than good about my exchange with him. This time, I didn’t even think about it. As soon as I saw him, I lowered by head and drove to the other end of the lot. I had to walk about 100 yards to get to the dentist’s office.

As frustrated as I have gotten with this guy, and as ridiculous as the whole idea is, there are several things about him that I respect:
He is consistent. He loves his work. He is good at his job. He loves his work. He is diligent. And did I mention that he loves his work?

I would like to do my work with the same enthusiasm that this old guy does his. He is so passionate. He doesn’t care what people think, he has a job to do and he knows how to do it. He has an insatiable desire to control his parking lot. He can’t be deterred.

I don’t have his job. I couldn’t make a living nagging people into moving their cars. My work is different.
But I wish I could exhibit the same energy and passion that he does. I wish I was as effective as he is.

Through the challenges of this week’s responsibilities, I am praying that God will refresh my energy for His work. I want my work to be more than responsibility and obligation. I want it to be heartfelt and passionate. I want to lick my chops, ready to pounce on the next opportunity.

Here are some ways that I (we) can make that happen:
Maintain a balanced focus: big picture/small picture. This is difficult. The temptation is to fall on one side or the other. Check in often with the idea of leadership equilibrium (future blog topic).
Make time for spiritual nourishment. Pray, read, meditate, isolate, fast. I know that this is Leadership 101, but you can’t give out what you haven’t taken in.
Grab time off. Too much work and not enough play will sour you. Again, balance comes to mind.
Take advantage of colleague interaction. There are things that can be shared only between those who walk the same road. Be sure to interact with friends in the same or a similar field of work.
Understand your Divine purpose. Rick Warren has thoroughly covered this topic but it is a worthwhile consideration for the leader who hopes to hang on to motivation. Know who God made you to be, and be that person.
Keep it simple. Uncomplicate the processes in which you are involved. It is easier to develop inspiration when systems are slick and unencumbered.

These are really just a few simple insights into maintaining motivation. I hope you can plug them in and benefit from them. I will continue to try.

My next dental appointment is in four months. I have no idea what my dentist will say or if I will need to have some work done. I may have a clean check up or I may have a cavity, we will see. But one thing I do know for sure, I will be parking in the correct location.

Beware of the parking lot Nazi.

200 year old people!

Last Thursday, at the University of Tennessee’s Master’s Graduate ceremony, I heard the featured speaker, Dr. David W. Schumann discuss the incredible advancements that are taking place in science and in the technology of human development. He stated that, due to the increase in the capabilities of implantable micro chips in the human brain, not only will our intelligence level increase drastically in the near future, but we can also expect the average life expectancy to increase to 150-200 years! Pretty cool thought.

Think of the possibilities!

Upside:
You would feel like a teenager until you were 50.
If you had children at age twenty five, your children did the same and so on, you could be a great grandparent x 8!
You wouldn’t be considered middle age until 100!
With your AARP membership awarded at age 50, you could save millions on senior’s discounts at local restaurants.
Think of the money to be made on the stocks of drugs like Viagra!

Downside:
Your face would still be breaking out at age 50.
If you retire by, say age 75, you would need to have enough money to live on for another 100 years!
Shuffleboard would become an Olympic event.
Mic Jaggar and The Rolling Stones would have another 100 years of rockin’ left!
Traffic in Florida would REALLY be nuts with all of the 175 year olds doing 45 on I-95!
Plastic surgeons would…well, you get the idea.

I think I prefer things the way they are.

Mom’s Day


To all the Moms out there…we love you and are thankful for you.

I appreciate my mom, my wife and my daughter (not yet a mom). I hope you all have the best day ever.

tragedy in Myanmar

The tragedy in Myanmar continues to unfold. The devastation from the cyclone is unimaginable. Because emergency relief supplies are being delayed by politics, the death toll could rise above 100,000.
I suggest a couple of things: pray and give. Because this is an extreme emergency, do what you plan to do now.
Pray for the survivors. Pray for relief to reach them, pray for the prevention of disease. Pray for hope.
Give to a reputable relief organization. I have listed several options below.
God bless the people of Myanmar.
The following aid agencies are accepting contributions to help those affected by the cyclone in Myanmar, according to InterAction, a coalition of aid agencies.

ADRA International Myanmar Cyclone Fund 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904 (800) 424-ADRA ext. 2372 http://www.adra.org

Action Against Hunger 247 W. 37th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018 (877) 777-1420 http://support.actionagainsthunger.org/donate

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, JDC: Myanmar Cyclone Relief P.O. Box 530, 132 East 43rd St., New York, NY 10017 (212) 687-6200 http://www.jdc.org

American Jewish World Service 45 W. 36th St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10016 (800) 889-7146 http://www.ajws.org

American Red Cross International Response Fund P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013 (800) HELP-NOW http://www.redcross.org

American Refugee Committee 430 Oak Grove St., Suite 204, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 872-7602 http://www.arcrelief.org

AmeriCares 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT 06902 (800) 486-4357 http://www.americares.org

Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team 6810 Tilden Lane, Rockville, MD 20852 (301) 984-0217 http://www.amurt.net

Baptist World Aid Myanmar (or Burma) Relief 405 North Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 790-8980 http://www.bwanet.org

CARE 151 Ellis Street N.E., Atlanta, GA 30303 (800) 521-2273 http://www.care.org

CHF International 8601 Georgia Ave., #800, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (866) 779-2CHF http://www.chfinternational.org

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) 2850 Kalamazoo Ave., S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49560-0600 (800) 55-CRWRC http://www.crwrc.org

Church World Service 28606 Phillips St., P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (800) 297-1516 http://www.churchworldservice.org

Concern Worldwide U.S. 104 East 40th St., Suite 903, New York, NY 10016 (212) 557-8000 http://www.concernusa.org

Direct Relief International 27 South La Patera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93117 (805) 964-4767 http://www.directrelief.org

Episcopal Relief and Development 815 Second Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (800) 334-7626 http://www.er-d.org

Food for the Hungry 1224 East Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034 (800) 248-6437 http://www.fh.org

Habitat for Humanity International Cyclone Nargis 121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709-3498 (800) HABITAT http://www.habitat.org

International Medical Corps 1919 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 400, Santa Monica, CA 90404 (800) 481-4462 http://www.imcworldwide.org

International Relief Teams Attn: Myanmar Cyclone, 4560 Alvarado Canyon Road, Suite 2G, San Diego, CA 92120 (619) 284-7979 http://www.irteams.org

International Rescue Committee P.O. Box 96651, Washington, DC 20090-6651; (Note on checks: Myanmar) (877) REFUGEE http://www.theIRC.org

Latter-day Saint Charities 50 East North Temple, 7th Floor, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 (800) 453-3860, ext. 23544 http://www.lds.org

Lutheran World Relief P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832 (800) 597-5972 http://www.lwr.org

MAP International Donor Member Services Myanmar Assistance P.O. Box 7020 Albert Lea, MN 56007-9931 (800) 225-8550 http://www.map.org

Operation USA, Memo “Myanmar Cyclone 3617 Hayden Ave., Suite A, Culver City, CA 90232 (800) 678-7255 http://www.opusa.org

Project HOPE 255 Carter Hall Lane, Millwood, VA 22646 (800) 544-4673 http://www.projecthope.org

Relief International 1575 Westwood Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 478-1200 http://www.ri.org

Save the Children USA 54 Wilton Road, Westport, CT 06880 (800) 728-3843 http://www.savethechildren.org

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) #3019674 Myanmar Emergency, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087 (800) 554-8583 http://www.umcor.org

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, UUSC-UUA Burma Cyclone Relief Fund P.O. Box 845259, Boston, MA 02284-5259 (800) 388-3920 http://www.uusc.org

U.S. Fund for UNICEF 125 Maiden Lane, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10038 (800) 4UNICEF http://www.unicefusa.org

World Concern 19303 Fremont Ave. North, Seattle, WA 98133 (800) 755-5022, ext.7706 http://www.worldconcern.org

World Emergency Relief P.O. Box 131570, Carlsbad, CA 92013 (888) 484-4543 http://www.worldemergencyrelief.org

World Vision P.O. Box 9716, Federal Way, WA 98063 (888) 56-CHILD http://www.worldvision.org

Graduation

Our daughter, Jessica graduates today with her Master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Tennessee. She has worked very hard for several years to accomplish what she has. We are obviously very proud of her.

I think one of her greatest assets is her dedication. She is a hard worker. Although she is very bright, it takes a tremendous amount of commitment to finish a Master’s degree by age 24. We believe that it is this dedication that will allow her to continue to succeed.

She and her husband Josh are moving to Guatemala in June to serve as missionaries at Casa Shalom orphanage. This is a very cool thing. We are excited for them and know they will do well there.

Just wanted to give a big shout out to them as they move forward in their lives.

Jesus, the center

I was reading Alan Hirsch’s blog, The Missional Musings of Alan Hirsch and was reminded of some things that he spoke about at a recent conference. I was not able to attend the exponential 08 conference but lots of people are blogging on the topics covered there.

Hirsch discussed the necessity of maintaining, or recovering Jesus as the centrality of our faith. According to Alan, our Christology is the very heart of spiritual renewal. So much of the time in ministry, we get very busy working for God – so busy that we forget the work of God in our own hearts.

In my small group on last Wednesday, someone was addressing this very thing. Too busy doing, no time for being … in the presence of God. Jesus loses His rightful place, as the King of our hearts. He has been dethroned, strangely, by His work.

Listen leaders, we can’t do the work of the Lord if He is second or third in our lives. Let’s set our priorities right: God first. Family second. Ministry third. Fourth – who knows? golf, fishing, Wii?

Hirsch is right. It’s all about Him (not Hirsch – Jesus!). Colossians 1:18 He is the head of the body, which is the church. Everything comes from him. He is the first one who was raised from the dead. So in all things Jesus has first place. NCV

By the way, I recommend Hirsch’s book, The Forgotten Ways.

chasen

I downloaded some great new music from Chasen, a group out of South Carolina. The project is called Shine Through the Stars and it has some great tunes on it. I especially enjoyed the fifth song, Doubts or Disbelief. It is a simple performance but the lyrics are powerful and heartfelt. Take a look and listen and see what you think. Doubts or Disbelief

Clones?

Letha and I had a laugh at Chipotle on Friday. We had dropped by to enjoy a few lunch tacos and there were 10-12 “twenty-something” guys having lunch, all of them obvious employees of the same company (their logoed white polos and company van gave them away). Not only were their shirts all alike, they were all wearing baggy cargo shorts, nice white tennis shoes and everybody had a Bluetooth device attached to their ear or an iPhone hangin’ on their hip. They were all Caucasian, all had the same haircut and all had that “I’m taking the technology world by storm” look in their eyes. It was weird. I don’t know if their job required them to look like clones or what. It was very strange. I had a good chuckle.

I also wondered how we are perceived by our community. By “we”, I mean believers in Christ. Obviously, we don’t all dress alike or look the same but I am wondering if those who drive by our church have a certain perception about us. Do they think we all are robots without the freedom and ability to think for ourselves? Do they do what I thought at Chipotle? Do they snicker and think we look a bit silly?

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells us, “…you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (NLT) Hebrews 13:7 tells us to imitate our leaders. I hope we understand the necessity of finding a healthy pattern of living and following it. We all know the value of a mentor. But I also hope we understand the necessity of individuality. If we are going to be effective in finding the lost, we have to respect the concepts of diversity. I think it is a mistake if we all listen to the same music and like the same artists and hang out at the same places. If we are all reading the same authors and attending the same conferences, we are getting a bit too predictable and boring. True, the road to salvation is narrow and straight. But once we are on that road, Christ never condemns individuality.

If you are a progressive leader, you are familiar with the list. The hot bloggers, the writers who are selling a ton of books. The conference speakers and pastors who have a thousand groupies following them around the country. I say, think a little for yourself. Go ahead and break out of the mold that has dictated what everyone else is doing and saying. Try something new.

Take a look around your church. Is everyone white? Is everyone rich? Is everyone young? If your answer is yes, then probably you are not doing the best job in reaching your community (unless everyone in your community is white and rich and young). How about your friends? Do they all talk and dress like you, have the same opinions as you? Do they all vote like you? If so, you are all missing a great opportunity to expand and grow. You may also be missing some chances to reach others – who are unlike you.

It’s a big world out there. There are lots of awesome people in it. Most of them are different from you. How ‘bout making a connection with a few of them today? It may be a little scary at first, but most of them don’t bite.

The evidence of The Spirit

Since Pentecost Sunday is right around the corner (competing with Mom’s day – I think the moms will win!), I thought I would try to take a fresh look at what it means to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. What is the real proof that we are empowered by Spirit? As much time as I have spent as a believer, one would think that I have it down pat by now. You would think that we would have it down pat by now. Not so fast.

I took a novel approach – I went back to scripture. Acts is a fascinating book to say the least. I read through the passages about miracles and signs and wonders and all the cool stuff that happened at Pentecost, and still should be happening in Spirit-filled communities. I remember many of the sermons that I have heard and preached, saying that this is exactly what we need today. But as I re-read Acts, something else jumped out at me that I see as a real evidence of the infilling of the Spirit.

These people gave. They gave up their own stuff and gave to others. They sold what they had to take care of the needs of the community. The people in the church of Acts got what it meant to be so influenced by the power of the Spirit that they had no problem reaching out to the needy around them.

Check out Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (NIV)

The DNA of the Spirit at work in the people of Acts is identified in their helping, their giving, their sharing, their feeding of the hungry, their clothing of the poor, their getting involved in correcting social injustices. As one with a Pentecostal heritage, I think I can offer a healthy criticism of our current operation. We have made Pentecostalism a style of worship. The Bible never does that. Pentecostalism is first and foremost a set of convictions that demands compassion by those who wear the label. A truly Spirit-filled person will get involved in efforts to address the needs of the less fortunate. A Spirit filled church really can’t be one unless they speak out and act on behalf of those who need help. Agreed, being Spirit filled it is about the manifestation of the gifts, no problem with that. It is about the unprecedented unity that they enjoyed, no doubt. But it is also about making a difference in the lives of hurting people. Not just praying for a miracle for those who are hungry, but creating a miracle by feeding the hungry. That is the work of the Spirit. That is what will make a difference in our world

In my opinion, many of the reports of revival in various places may be merely reports. My experience is that many of these events center around the church building, with believers coming together to “get blessed”. While this may not be a bad thing, I think that there is more to being revived by the Spirit than for already-blessed people to receive more . One of the indicators of true spiritual renewal and revival is the church reaches out to help, in practical ways, those who need it. When there are no more hungry people, we can rest assured that the church is revived.

Do you want to be a part of an Acts church? You have to give of yourself. You want to be a part of a truly Pentecostal group? Go out from your fired-up worship service and help somebody. It’s what they did in Acts. It’s what we should do.

If this happens, we may see a re-identification of those who are Spirit filled. Instead of us being, “the crazy folks who expend lots of energy in their worship services”, we may become better known as, “those crazy people who love you so much, they actually show it”!

Let Nothing Disturb You

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Christ has no body on earth now but yours;
no hands but yours;
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes
through which the compassion of Christ
must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet
with which he is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands
with which he is to bless his people.

—-St. Teresa of Avila

National Day of Prayer (as if every day shouldn’t be a day of prayer)

AW Tozer said:
“When I am praying the most eloquently, I am getting the least accomplished in my prayer life. But when I stop getting eloquent and give God less theology and shut up and just gaze upward and wait for God to speak to my heart He speaks with such power that I have to grab a pencil and a notebook and take notes on what God is saying to my heart.” (Success and the Christian, 46-47)

I thought I would just offer a prayer today. Let’s keep it simple.

God,
Let me hear from you, let me be still enough to sense you.
Let me be close to you.
Help me with my sin: Forgiveness for yesterday, strength for today, protection for tomorrow.
Change me.
Help me to obey you, whatever you say, detail by detail.
Help me to bring honor to you.

In the name of Jesus.

The necessity of Joy

I think that joy is an indispensible asset for every leader. It is so easy to get caught up in the intensity of our responsibilities. The weight we carry will, if we are not careful, sink us. I kind of consider joy to be my life vest. When the waves get too high, I hang on to joy for dear life! It keep me floating.

Joy will …
Keep you focused when things go wrong.
Provide the courage to stay with it until the job is accomplished.
Make you aware of the simple blessings.
Help you tell better jokes.
Promote peace of mind, well being and balance.

Without joy …
Life will get you down.
The mole hills will become mountains.
You lose sleep.
You’re no fun to be around.
Your smiles are fake – and people know.

Nehemiah 8:10 “Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.” (NCV)

My Top 10 Leadership Challenges – in no particular order

Maintaining focus in face of criticism.
Impatience when there is no perceivable progress.
Limited resources (money, time, people).
Dealing with uncommitted people.
Being too influenced by negative people.
Getting bogged down with minutiae.
Impatience with slow adapters.
Arrogance that I have the answers.
Keeping people (or getting people) motivated.

OK, I know that’s only nine, but I am enjoying an especially good day!

62.4%!

The divorce rate in our county is currently hovering at 62.4% which means that 6 out of 10 couples getting married today in Palm Beach County will fail in their marriage. This stat is quite a bit higher than the national average which is less than 50% divorce rate. It is data like this that fuels my vision for ministry. Families are in crisis. We have to do something.

What makes this come home to me is that I know people, have friends who are giving up on their marriage. People who are Christ followers. People who sit in the church most weeks listening to our teaching about life and the Bible and how it is all supposed to work. Apparently, what we are currently doing is not working. It’s like we have lost respect for marriage and the commitment it requires. We have bought into the lie that divorce is the easy way out. In reality, there are some really hurting people out there; in our county, over 60% of them.

On Friday, I was part of a larger groups of pastors and spiritual leaders in our community that signed a document which pledges us to do something about the divorce rate. The Palm Beach County Healthy Marriage Initiative is an effort to strengthen local church and marriages by providing county-wide standards for performing weddings. The eleven points of the document are as follows:

1. Promote a healthy and biblical model of marriage.
2. Require a minimum of 4 months of preparation.
3. Promotes sexual abstinence outside of marriage.
4. Present the evidence of the negative impact of cohabitation on marriage.
5.Require a minimum of 4 premarital sessions, utilizing both the scriptures and a premarital inventory; and at least two post-marital counseling sessions within the first year of marriage.
6. Enrich existing marriages with an annual event in the local church using videos, marital inventories, or outside speakers.
7. Train “back from the brink” couples whose own marriages once nearly failed to mentor those in current crisis.
8. Reconcile the separated or abandoned with a course, “Marriage 911”
9. Enlist, train, and equip a support system of mature married couples to serve as Marriage Mentors to engaged couples, newlyweds, and those experiencing marital difficulties.
10. Create Stepfamily Support Groups to provide a place of prayer, encouragement and hope to stepfamilies.
11. Partner with other congregations and organizations to share resources and create a positive climate in which marriages can thrive.

Although these standards will be tough to uphold, I am all for the effort. I’m sure some prospective couples will get really ticked but our marriages and families need some help. Maybe we can see a turnaround in the future.

Interesting quotes on world change


The following quotes all come from a promotional piece I received pushing an upcoming conference at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio. The Change the World Conference is in October and looks like something worthwhile. While it is too early for me to make a commitment to go, I loved some of the quotes by some of the featured speakers and leaders and thought you may also enjoy them. Though some may be a bit controversial, they will provoke some thought and dialogue.

Check these out . . .

Christians must act as the moral conscience for both sides of the isle, always advocating for peace with justice and the orphan and widow. The Gospel is good news for the poor. If it doesn’t cover the poor, it is not the Gospel! – Mike Slaughter

Why are so many religious people arguing about the origin of the {human} species, but so few are concerned about the extinction of the species? –Brian McLaren

Two of the great hungers in our world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social justice. The connection between the two is the one the world is waiting for, especially the new generations. And the first hunger will empower the second. –Jim Wallis

Christianity’s next reformation…will draw upon what is best in both fundamentalism and liberalism by holding together the evangelical and social gospels, by combining a love of scripture with a willingness to see both its humanity as well as its Divinity, and by coupling a passionate desire to follow Jesus Christ with a reclamation of His heart toward those whom religious people have often rejected. This reformation will be led by people who are able to see the gray in a world of black and white. –Adam Hamilton

…in the minds of many nonreligious people in America, Christianity is not associated with love or grace or justice, but with a particular view of homosexuality, or a particular stance on abortion…Christianity has become a wedge that drives people from Christ, rather than drawing them to him…There are a growing number of Christians who believe the Gospel calls us to be healers and bridge builders, not dividers. – Adam Hamilton

The Protestant theology of many Americans has reduced salvation by faith to a passive and easy “believism,” giving the impression that all a person needs to be saved is a right theology…The evidence of true conversion is a commitment to the work of Jesus. –Mike Slaughter

Faith is not just for the new life, the hereafter: it is precisely intended to transform the world in the here and now – otherwise, most of the Bible makes no sense at all. –Jim Wallis

Jesus’ message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven’s blissful shores, as is properly assumed, but instead is about God’s will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven…The popular domesticated Jesus, who has become little more than a chrome-plated hood ornament on the guzzling Hummer of Western civilization can…be replaced with a more radical, saving and, I believe, real Jesus. –Brian McLaren

The time has passed when we can define ourselves on the tired and old labels of conservative or liberal, evangelical or charismatic, Catholic or Protestant. All who have faith in Jesus belong to Him. Everyone who serves the mission is a follower of His. It is time for all of us to change the world together. –Mike Slaughter

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

I am reading Jonathan Edwards’ Basic Writings and am blown away by his Resolutions document. If you get a chance to read these Resolutions, keep in mind that he wrote this stuff while he was in college in the early 1700’s. I had resolutions in college, too, but we won’t talk about that now.

Sorry for the massive post but I thought I would share a few that jumped out at me as being especially applicable:

Edwards starts with the statement: BEING SENSIBLE THAT I AM UNABLE TO DO ANYTHING WITHOUT GOD’ S HELP, I DO HUMBLY ENTREAT HIM BY HIS GRACE TO ENABLE ME TO KEEP THESE RESOLUTIONS, SO FAR AS THEY ARE AGREEABLE TO HIS WILL, FOR CHRIST’ S SAKE.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent,- what sin I have committed,-and wherein I have denied myself;-also at the end of every week, month and year
52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what am I the better for them, and what I might have got by them.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

Anybody else feeling challenged???

The Prosperity Gospel

Who doesn’t want to be rich? I certainly wouldn’t mind it. But how much of a place should this desire occupy in our hearts?

The North American church is conflicted. Consider the following research/stats:

61% of Christians believe that God wants people to be financially prosperous.
48% of Christians believe Jesus was not rich and we should follow His example.
49% believe Christians don’t give enough to the poor.
57% do not believe 10% is the minimum God expects Christians to give.
(source: David Van Biema and Jeff Chu, “Does God want You to be Rich?” Time Magazine 6/18/06)

New research released by The Barna Group reveals that in 2007 just 9% of adult Americans who are Christians gave away 10 percent of their income to places of worship or nonprofits (tithing).

Now consider what scripture teaches:
Ecclesiastes 5:10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! (NLT)

Hebrews 13:5 Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (MSG)

It’s time for us to get this thing straight. We have to get off the defensive side when it comes to our money. There has to be a more open atmosphere available for us to deal with this topic. But for those of you who wish I would mind my own business in this regard, I will borrow part of a posting from my friend Chris Goins “I love the way Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands describes his desire for his congregation as it relates to giving: “Don’t listen to me! Listen to God!””

Happy Earth Day!


I am risking coming across like a tree hugger but it is obvious to me that we have to focus more attention on issues like the environment. It seems that many Christ-followers are a little behind when it comes to dialogue and action regarding ways in which we can take better care of the creation. This is a big deal in our country. While preservation of the earth and its resources should receive more attention from those who follow Christ, I see an even bigger issue at hand.

Since our culture is keenly attuned to matters of ecology, we can easily appear disconnected and aloof if we are not proactive in addressing these concerns. How can we say that that we care for people, for their well being and for the future of their families if we ignore topics like environmental responsibility? I think there is credibility to be gained if we will speak and act in well balanced ways regarding the environment.

What will it hurt if we recycle some plastic, save a little water or drive a hybrid car? Just maybe along with making the world a cleaner place for the next generation, we may also earn the right to address our culture on more important topics, like eternity.

Happy Earth Day!