Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Every one of us want to live a life of meaning...even greatness. It is healthy to want to make a difference, to leave a mark, to strive to be better and do excellently.
It is not healthy to pull into a corner, be self-absorbed and lethargic.
Problem comes for many when they begin to equate greatness with cultural norms - size, speed, money, better-than-you's, ego.
Press for greatness.
Make life count.
But, do it Jesus' way.

Here are few thoughts about what really does add up to true greatness.

1. Focus your energy on being a servant...not a leader. Leadership comes to those who serve so well that they are asked to help others do the same. If it comes any other way, it leads to craziness. Jesus said: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave" (Matthew 20:26-27) And He said about His life: I did not come to be served, but to serve and give My life......you do it too. So serve every day, everywhere you are. Watch for ways to serve and just do it. Ask those in charge what you can do to serve them and do it. And offer all you do to the Lord as an offering of your life to Him.

2. Don't try to be flashy, impressive...instead, keep reminding yourself that faithfulness is the criterion that Jesus sets. Faithfulness is doing what you have said you would do..and doing it well, regularly, with your best energy, as though it it was someone else doing this for you. On time, ready to go, focused, humble, happy, productive...that is faithfulness. Jesus said the "well done" would be spoken only over those who had been "faithful." (Matthew 25:21) Note: you don't have to be a star, but you have to be faithful with what you have been given. "It is required of servants (quality #1) that a person be found faithful." It is a requirement of the Kingdom.

3. Greatness is measured in followability. Jesus said over and over: "Follow me" and the apostles called people to follow them. IE..if it is not changing you, don't lay the demands, expectations on anyone else. Every person with integrity. That is the Kingdom. When Jesus called people to follow it was a vulnerable (for everyone), demanding, life-changing thing that began for them all. In less than two years they all went from zero to being willing to die for the One they were following.
Can our friends, children, associates follow us?...into our habits, into our life-style, into our entertainment, into our ambitions, into our faith?

Followable. Faithful. Servant-like.

Here is greatness.

Here is Jesus.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Earlier today, I was taking time to clean up and during it, had time to mentally be untasked. We all have times like this...when eating, when shaving, when showering, when performing tasks that do not demand much mental focus. In those times it is interesting to tune in to what is happening.

My mind went to a pastor-friend in a nearby city...and as soon as it did, I found myself with a few simple options:
1. To wonder how he is doing and review some of our past interacts and present responsibilities.
2. To weigh in on his great strengths and self-assess, developing some negative personal thoughts and attitude.
3. To wonder if this was a prompt from the Lord, and assume that I should either contact him, or at very least pray for him and bless him.

Our minds are really complex. Our options are always bubbling. And what we do with the options that come to mind is a great key to victorious christian living.

I have found that sometimes, "the most trivial thoughts" lead to a clear assignment in the Spirit and an ushering forth of the Presence of God into my life and that of others.

"Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them - living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God...ignores God...thinking more about self than God."
- from The Message - Romans, Chapter 8.

May our "minding" lead us to joy and meaning on this journey called life.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Sign on a new deco eaterie wall:

"Proper Apologies have 3 parts:
1. What I did was wrong
2. I feel badly I hurt you.
3. How can I make this better?"

Good human wisdom.

And I grab several concordances to find a biblical reference to this and found only one, in the Message concordance....where the people who threw Paul in jail, did so not knowing he was a Roman citizen, and thus came to him hurredly in the morning and "apologized" - see it all in Acts 16.

A question: why does the Bible not include this in its vocabulary of recommended human activity?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

God Wins

I'm out of the office this week....having fun with grandkids, reading and assisting our children as they walk down the path towards foreign missions service.
In the past hours I downloaded Rob Bell's new release: God Wins, and read it with interest. I had seen the promotional lead that was released, and really wanted a first look and an entire read prior to making comment here.
What a great communicator he is. It is artfully put together, daringly fashioned, refreshingly focused on things that really matter to everyone. Lots of people will read this.....and talk about it. The feedback already is abundant and it has only been out two days?!
I plan to read as much of the reviews as I can. This stuff is important.
But, what can I say right now that might be helpful to all of us?
Here is my short list of immediate responses:
1. Caution! Do not lean towards what is natively pleasing....like God winning by seemingly getting everyone into a redeemed state in the end. I like that...and the conversation with my kids heading into missions has already had strong focus. Why should anyone do what they are heading towards, if it is not compellingly necessary?
2. Before you accept everything Bell and editors have so skillfully put together, go back to the passages of scripture that the Spirit prompts in you and read the word again. Remember: the Bible was written and was meant to be grasped by people, not just academics. Read the word and let the Spirit of Truth, inform you and guide you.
And here is the short list of passages that I have felt led to revisit:
a. About the full view of the nature of Jesus - Matthew 23-24.
b. About the kindness of God - Romans 1-3
c. About wrath not really being a central part of God's function - Revelation.
3.Read Rob Bell...it will equip you in conversations for a long time. BUT read the word, it will inform and balance your grasp of the truth that is.
On the journey, with you....and remember, God really does win!
Revelation 20 and 21

Thursday, March 10, 2011


It's getting late...and the clock which had been humming is now ticking loudly.

It seems to me that signs of change and perhaps the big shift in everything - the return of Jesus to the earth - is especially close.

Now, don't stop reading. I have not become "strange," or paranoid, or sensational. No, at this season I ponder more deeply and have mellowed considerably. (I recently read some of my early sermon notes and could see the fire with which I preached the return of Christ...and that was 40 years ago...something towards 15,000 days ago. I feel more filled with perspective now, rather than shaped primarily by zeal.

In recent months, however, it seems like things with great portent are happening all around us, things that at minimum make for great change, and at max, might bring us to culmination of things in the return of our Lord. (Will these changes be synergistic as they intersect?) Are we in fact, surrounded by the beginning of the final groans? The fusion that occurs prior to the explosive release of a new age?

Four "signs" I list:

Sign #1.
The great changes afoot in America: the spiraling debt, the boomer generation moving into retirement (with its impact on leadership, health care, income, social security and more), the moral decay and loss of fear for God Himself. (Have you considered how much TV fare has changed in just the past 5 years?)
America has stood very tall for christian principle and freedom in past generations and provided protection and assistance for so many nations of the world. What will happen if this erodes and there is no longer this influence for good?

Sign #2.
With our seeming demise, the rise of other nations is already being talked of in the press: China, India, Brazil and others...signals at least a shift in world politics,tensions and responsibilities. It is soon going to be a whole new chess board, with moves and responses yet undefined.

Sign #3.
The global simmering of radical Islam and the upheaving consequences that can come with teeming numbers of people (men, women, children) who are willing to become personal bombs in the midst of civilized enterprise. (See the recent video: Kamal Saleem A Muslim Cries Out to Jesus.)

Sign #4.
The continuation of the information revolution: the webb, google, blogging, facebook, texting and more. This is greatly reconfiguring relationships, privacy, education, availability, time, innocence and more.
"Every eye" seeing Jesus on His return, used to be (in my mind) one of the end-time "miracles." Now the multiple, readily accessible ways this could happen seem almost to be a logical, "of course" word rather than a miraculous one.

One thing is most certain - the journey ahead will not be predictable and quiet. It will be a turbulent, change-filled, anxiety-possible era. (The implications of this for the church are many...perhaps the focus of a future blog.)

But on a personal level....

We must walk close to One Who is not going to be surprised by anything or deterred from His master plan for the universe.

We must stay close to One Who is able to calm any storm.

We must be willing more and more to heed the call: "Deny yourself, and take up your cross, and follow Me."

Time now to "sign" off.

I welcome your feedback.

What if.....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This morning I found myself busying myself with some chores...vacuuming, picking up stuff, cleaning, putting dishes away, etc. Enjoyed the work and thought, if I ever feel to complain against this, may I be reminded that my wife has done yards of this every day, along with lots of other things, to make the home what it is, a place of atttractiveness, nourishment and comfort, a place of safety and hope.

She has found great joy and meaning in serving all of us so practically....and we have been enriched and blessed by this more than we have ever thought or given thanks for.

I remember too that our Lord was most likely very familiar with the household, it was after all so simple, so earthy, so all-done-by-simple-human-effort. Everything took a servant's labor to accomplish. No servants such as Hoover, Presto, Maytag etc. exhisted.

In His ministry He broke bread, cooked fish, and ate in the homes of almost strangers. And in heaven, He is planning this incredible banquet celebration.

He also extolled the attitude of a servant and called for us to love one another in lots more than emotive ways.

So, especially to the guys...serve simply and with care. Do what balances the load of work around you. Do not turn from the mundane or the "lesser" tasks.

Lots of that can be found in housework.



Monday, March 7, 2011

Some days...

Saw this recently in a new eatery.

"Not every day is a sunny day
Some days you're the pigeon
Other days you're the statue."

Part humor...part reality...life.

Glad that Jesus is the light of the world.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


At coffee with Jackie this morning. We sat in a booth next to two men, one of which was seeking employment with the other. Both involved in ministry.

I could see the back of the potential employer's head...nodding and nodding. And we both could hear quite a bit of the potential hire's words...impressing, recounting, assuring, hoping.

Don't know what ever became of that encounter....but I came home and opened the word to the area of I Corinthians that is my current focus.

In a prior read I had penciled in the margin: "Apostolic resume."

These were the words of Paul, writing out his "resume" to the Corinthian church.

"I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are weak...we (are held) in disrepute...we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things." 4:9-13

Oh God, may we fulfill the calling that You have placed on us - no matter what. And may we put arm around those whose road may seem to be writing a similar resume.