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Archive for August, 2010

Tracking Progress

I ordered some books a few days ago.  When they shipped, I received an email telling me that my package was on its way.  In that email there was a tracking link so that I could follow the progress of my order.  On the day of delivery, a few minutes after the box was placed on my desk, I received another email telling me the package had been delivered and even told me who signed for it.  Amazing!  Technology allows us to track an order practically every step of the way.  We can see when our order leaves its point of origin.  We can see the stops it makes along the way and we can even see when it should arrive.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same ability to track our spiritual progression?  It would be interesting to be able to see how we have progressed and grown to be more like Jesus (or maybe how we haven’t).

Unfortunately, there is not a technical way to track our growth.  But you can give the idea some reflection.  Ask yourself some questions about how you have grown.  Questions like: Am I more patient and forgiving today than I was a year ago?  Am I more committed to setting aside time to spend with God in prayer today than I was a year ago?   Do I love more freely than I did a year ago?  You get the idea.

Do some spiritual tracking today – it could be very insightful!

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Keep It Simple

There is a quote (one of many around my office) that hangs above my desk by Charles Mingus and it says this:

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

As I sat in my prayer time this morning and reflecting on things, I noticed this quote.

Is this not true of our approach to Christian faith?  Have we not taken something beautifully simple and made it complicated?

When you think about the Christian faith, it really boils down to this: love God and love your neighbor.  That’s it.  We have built elaborate systems to help define what this means and how to do it, but the reality is – we have made it complicated.

Simplify your life today.  It’s easy to make things complicated.  It takes work to keep things simple.

Love God and love your neighbor.

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I heard an interesting story in a workshop a few weeks ago and I have been pondering it off and on since that time.  I did a little research and it appears to be valid.

It is the story of the development of the typewriter.  The original layout of the keyboard had to be altered because of the design of the machine.  If the keys were laid out logically and efficiently, the potential typing speed led to stuck keys.  Thus, the keyboard had to be designed in such a way as to separate the frequently used keys so that it would slow the typist down enough that the keys would not stick.

With the invention of the electronic typewriter, this design flaw was remedied, but by then, the keyboard layout was ingrained in our culture and any change to make it more efficient has been defeated.  Now days, we don’t even use typewriters anymore.  We sit at computers and type onto a screen.  But guess how that keyboard you are typing on is laid out – you guessed it – the same way it was over 120 years ago.

Here is the question:  Why is it that even when we know a change would be beneficial and make us more efficient do we resist the change?

Can this reality be seen in the church?  You bet!  We get comfortable and the “way we have always done it” gets ingrained in our culture.

Here is the challenge for today:  If the church is God’s plan to offer hope and love to a hurting world (and we know there is no plan B), then shouldn’t we do everything in our power to be constantly striving to improve how we minister?

Something to think about.

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This past Saturday, I tagged along with our students to Rock the Desert.  It was hot and a little dusty, but it was worth it.  Last year was my first experience with the event and I was so moved that I made sure to make it a priority this year as well.

We heard a lot of different artists at the concert – December Radio, Decypher Down, Remedy Drive, Family Force 5 and Hawk Nelson just to name some.  But the one that made the day for me was @lecrae.  He is an unashamedly Christian rap artist – but I have decided that he is really a youth evangelist who has found that he can put his sermons in the form of a rap to reach kids.

His words challenged me to stop and rethink God’s call on my life.  It’s not about me but about what God wants to do through me and ultimately that is to reach a hurting world with the hope and love that only God can give.

That call is the same for all of us if we are followers of the Way.

So how are you going to show God’s hope and love to those around you today?

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To Be or To Do

Yesterday, we watched an interview here at the Global Leadership Summit with the President and CEO of Compassion International.  During that interview I was reminded of a sobering truth.

That truth?  Here it is:  God’s plan for ministering to the world, for reaching out and redeeming the people of the world is the church.  God’s plan A is that the church – the family of God – will minister and reach out to the people of the world and through that ministry and community, redemption will be found.

The real sobering aspect of this plan is that there is no plan B!

How do we do this?  It’s not by “doing” church.  I have written about this before – you might want to take a look at this post.

We have to get past the idea that we are going to “do” church.  Instead, we have to see that we must “be” the church.  If every individual in the church were to take to heart that we are to be the church out in the world – our world would be changed and changed for the better.

There is no plan B.

Go and BE the church today!

I’d love to hear the outcome.

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On the way to the office this morning, I had the radio on (as usual) and heard a familiar song from @Manafest called Avalanche.  I had heard the song before, in fact, I have it on my iPod.  But for some reason, it struck a chord with me today.

The song speaks to a condition I am sure we can all relate to – that of being the prodigal child of God.  The words that caught my ear today were these, “Cause I’m the prodigal man of this avalanche, I’m going down, I’m going down, down.”

I suppose the reason these lines hit me is because I can relate them to times in my life when I have allowed my relationship with Jesus to stagnate and have felt the hopelessness of being all alone with little hope.

But the song moves the listener to hope with these lines, “Watched you chase a man down, watched you raise a man out, mercy on me, forever I’m free.”

I am reminded that regardless of how far I roam or wander, God actually pursues me and is there to offer mercy and grace and welcome me home into a renewed relationship.

Maybe today, things for you are great – your relationship with Jesus is just as it should be – if so, wonderful, file these thoughts for later use.

But perhaps today this song describes you.  Maybe today you feel caught in an avalanche of life, sliding farther away from where you want to be with little control or ability to stop it.  If that is you – take heart – Jesus wants to lift you out.

That is the wonder and beauty of mercy and grace.  It’s never too late to turn back to Jesus.

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This week, Thursday and Friday, I will have the distinct privilege of attending the Leadership Summit with a group of folks from our church and community.  I have read and heard most of the speakers who will be speaking on leadership at this event and I am really looking forward to hearing them again.

But more importantly than that, I am looking forward to sharing this time with the folks who are attending the event from our community.  I have learned that leaders never lead alone.  We all need others to learn from, lean on and with whom we can experience mutual accountability.  So the relational side of this event will be just as important as the actual speaking.  (P.S. – We still have one spot available if you are interested let me know)

All of us are leaders in some capacity.  At the core of our commitment to the Way is an element of leadership.  When you committed to follow Jesus, you committed to stop following the world.  It takes a real sense of courage and willingness to stand alone to step out of the norm and be different.  So as a believer, you are a leader.

The question for you to consider today is this – who are the folks around you who you can learn from, lean on and with whom you can experience mutual accountability?  I challenge you today to not only think on this in passing, but actually make a list of the folks who fit this profile for you.

Lead out today!

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Do you ever have one of those days when it’s just hard to get going.  Maybe your tired or stressed, but for whatever reason, it’s just hard to get moving.  Today is one of those days for me.  We just got back from a week long vacation and you would think I would be rested and ready to go but I am dragging this morning.  Maybe you have those days too.

Here is what is helping me this morning – read this.

God has a plan!  I can have hope in knowing that today is going to be filled with God-given opportunities!  Wow!  That helps get me moving – even if it is slowly at first.

Seek God with your whole heart today – if you do, you will receive hope and a future, but most importantly, you will find God!

Be blessed!

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