Archive for the ‘God’ Category

The two most common, but deadly mistakes that leaders make

February 28, 2008

Early this morning my friend Jamal Jivanjee shared a poignant word on the two most common, but deadly mistakes that leaders make.

It can become so natural to lead by the Voice when necessary. I am surely guilty of this. But it doesn’t make sense – either you lead full-on spiritually or we’re settling in our own abilities.

I believe God is calling out a generation to lead by the Spirit with every fiber of their being, who are not afraid to penetrate any culture for the name of Jesus, who are fiercely bold and courageous yet with childlike innocence and endeavoring love. My brother Jamal and I are heartstruck by this piercing promise. It seems daunting, but we are called to keep listening.


Hudson Taylor, during a time of severe sickness

February 26, 2008

Today, at my Doctor’s office, I looked down and read these words under the glass on his desk. I immediately took out my laptop and wrote it down because it resembles the past time for me.

Hudson Taylor the great missionary, during a time of severe sickness, once said, “I am so weak I cannot write; I cannot read my Bible; I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust.” That is all that God asks of you, His dear child, when you grow faint in the fierce fires of affliction. Do not try to be falsely strong, but rather be still and know that He is God, that He will sustain you and bring through. “Stay firm and let thine heart take courage.” Psalms 27:4

C.S. Lewis on Pain

November 29, 2007

A moving speech in the movie Shadowlands. C.S. Lewis, who is played by Anthony Hopkins, shares this 2-minute version of why God allows pain.

Oh, That’s Common Sense (Then Why Doesn’t Everyone Remember to Do It)

November 25, 2007

Thoughts from my last day at Mayo Clinic

Published: September 6, 2007

Do I Try to Find Common Ground?

Shortly after our conversations with our newfound friends at the Starbucks next to Mayo, I began reading in I Corinthians 9. I was sitting in the waiting room for my last appointment with the Internist before heading back to Atlanta.

“When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings (vs. 22-23).”

I want to dig into this on a much deeper level and understanding later today. But for now, I am fascinated with the simplicity and practicality of it. For one, it just makes sense. Do I share in people’s oppression? I want to see what the meaning of that word is here, but in a general sense it means to feel dominated, coerced or subjugated by something or somebody. To be oppressed is to be subjected to a harsh or cruel form of domination or to have worry, stress, or trouble because of somebody. It also means to hold something in check or put an end to it (Encarta World English Dictionary). For me it’s sickness. For others it’s a boss or a government.

The fact is many if not most people are oppressed by something, and Paul is saying we should share their oppression. To share means much more than just finding commonality. It can also mean to take equal responsibility for it, but I’m not sure (yet) if that is what Paul means here. The message is we must be responsible to share with others whatever they are going through for one overarching purpose: “so that I might bring them to Christ.” It doesn’t say, “so that they might be led to Christ” and it doesn’t say “so that someone might bring them to Christ.” It says “so that I might bring them to Christ.” It also doesn’t say “will”—it says “might” which means that doesn’t mean you must bring them to Christ, taking off the wrong kind of pressure. There’s a balance to this like everything else in the Christian walk.


What is the Church?

August 28, 2007

I’ve been rediscovering the essentials of the faith, a discipline I should be doing regularly. Right now, I’m digging into what Jesus called “My church.”

To begin with, I am reading through Charles Colson’s classic Being the Body. Last night, I read a good chunk in it and tonight I am taking notes. My hope is to go through this with our community in September.

Here are some excerpts about the definition of the church. It’s not even close to everything, and does not fully define it like Colson does throughout the book.


    In direct response to Peter’s confession, Christ announced: “On this rock I will build my church.”

    And to that church He promised a vast grant of authority, which He called “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

    “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,” Jesus said, “and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The church was to be His instrument on earth, and whatever was done in His will would have eternal significance and consequence.

    Jesus’ response to Peter’s confession was to announce that He would build His church. And from that declaration we learn four crucial lessons about the church.

    First, the church is not a building. An ekklesia was a gathering of people. For the culture at large, ekklesia meant a public assembly of citizens. It was used when they were “called out” of the city to vote. Through its Hebrew counterpart, it also meant those whom He brought together and called by His name. The people of God.

    All references to the church, including the metaphorical “body” and “holy nation,” refer to God’s people.

    Second, the church is more than simply a collection of people; it is a new community. Many modern Christians see the Christian faith primarily, if not exclusively, as the gospel of “Jesus and me.”

The Prosperity Gospel

August 13, 2007


There was a time in my life when I would have had a hard time -not with what John Piper is saying, but how he is saying this. But I would have been wrong.

This is a dangerous, misleading false teaching that MUST be eradicated.

Yes, these are intense words, but our day and our theology causes for it. May we continue to converse about these issues, so that we find ourselves only satisfied in Jesus. Our life and the world depends on it.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with 100% of it, but it’s important that we guard our theology. Read I Timothy 4 and 6. Paul thought so.

Kudos to Jimmie Gillespie for telling me about this.

Now let’s converse…

Oh – by the way, this applies to health and suffering too:) I surely would love to learn more with you about these issues. As for the suffering issues, I have a lot of opinions from this past year through my own health deficiences. It caused me to study it like never before. And I think I’ve heard everything under the sun. There’s certainly a lot there about what we’d like for theology to be.

An eye on the next life

August 6, 2007

As I lay in bed this rainy afternoon, the only thing that brings joy is keeping an eye on the next life. I may not be able to talk. I may not be able to move. And even the slightest stress turns my inward body into an out-of-control spin. Yes, these are without question unique times! But my soul and my Spirit are alive and well, thanks to a great God I have the privilege of walking with. And the only way that can change (-a unaligned soul and Spirit) is to do anything but sit and rest because God wants me to do just that. I’m not supposed to make phone calls. I’m not supposed to go hang out with friends. I’m definitely not supposed to work. I am commanded by the Ruler of the Universe to sit and be. And it feels good.

I am utterly amazed.

And…I will relish every moment when my body builds itself back. However, in the meantime, as I sit and be, I am reminded how I was made for the life which is yet to come. The men before me who followed hard after God, men like Abraham and Joseph, and all the patriarchs of the Old Testament, they didn’t know why things went as it did, much less what was next. They did know, however, that God was with them, and there was more to life.

What life are you stacking up rewards for?

For the life which is yet to come—live well!


August 6, 2007

Amazingly, the moment I finished my last message at this weekend’s retreat my body went haywire. All weekend I felt relatively good—even on little sleep and a fairly busy realm of activities. And this energy lasted until the last second. God is so amazing and all-powerful! He’s definitely been protecting me from the low-times when I needed some energy. The week before I did pretty well on vacation, or about as good as you can do on a vacation. I was tired a decent bit, but hey – I was vacating so I got along all right.

God showed himself this weekend, and it was a pleasure to partake in such a sweet time. I made some incredible friends and learned a lot. But the HUGE bonus was Kara accepting Christ. Amber had the privilege of praying alongside of her as she cried out to God and as God opened his arms wide open. Amazing.

Thankfully, now I’m chillin at George and Jami’s house. Actually, I’m laid out on a bed in their guest room and can hardly move. But I’m filled with so much joy due to my gracious and giving Heavenly Father. Wow, I’ve never been so happy to partake in this gift of sickness. What an honor!

Definitely keeping me grounded, and a huge reminder of the God who created the Universe.

Kudos to Jimmie and Rachel Gillespie…who have officially become two of our dear friends for life. Our conversations were riveting—to say the least. We are so grateful to Brian and Janaa (and little Dylan, of course) and the New Life College and twentysomethings gang who blessed our socks off. Though we surely missed two of our best friends Andy and Sarah Bullard who had to make a last minute run to the hospital to have child #2—Grant Noah Bullard—who decided to arrive a little earlier than expected (credit also goes to Sarah’s erupted appendix).

Really looking forward to being back in Ohio for New Life’s men’s conference in late October.

And really, really looking forward to making the Bullard’s our brand new neighbors in September.

Who will Father and Mother all these children?

July 20, 2007

Spiritually speaking…

It’s easier to keep a few feet away (a mile for some) from those who don’t share a similar belief system than it is to invite them into our lives. There’s an easy way and a hard way to do it. The easy way has proven to be a remedial supplement for some, however it keeps us isolated from sick patients who need close, constant, attentive care. People don’t need Doctors that tell them how sick they are; they need caregivers who’ll Father and Mother the new baby child into its new world of fresh beginnings. Who will Father and Mother all these children?

How to stay humble

June 28, 2007

One day I was having lunch with Josh McDowell and two businessmen. One of them asked Josh how he stays humble. But Josh kept talking. The guy grew kind of irritable so he asked him again, “How do you stay humble as you accomplish so much for God?” Josh’s answer: “I’m too busy to think about it.”

That’s it.

There’s something to be said about working hard for God and not looking back, but keep your head focused on the now, on our God. Many of us in our culture spend so much time evaluating, which is a good thing, but sometimes it causes us to outthink what really matters. Josh works hard. He gives what he can and leaves the rest to God. That’s the way Jesus led his disciples. He told them what to do, in fact, he pretty much threw them in the fire and they obeyed. After they obeyed they went to sleep ready to give God another day. We live what we can have for ourselves; another vacation, a retirement fund or a new house. We work hard so we can reap great things for ourselves. But I don’t read anywhere in the gospels about the disciples doing anything remotely like this. Jesus didn’t lead them that way. He didn’t tell them if you do this and follow me like this you will reap things for yourselves to enjoy. He called them to die to their selves, and to live for eternity.

We know one thing: you won’t be humble thinking about being humble.

Top 10 Lessons I Have Learned From Being Sick

June 28, 2007

Last Sunday, I shared at my Dad’s church some of the top lessons I am learning right now through all my health deficiencies. Here’s a look at my short-notes:

1 “I didn’t know how to be sick.” All of us are suffering. No one is immune to suffering. We all suffer because of the fall.

2 “Sometimes, I don’t feel spiritual.” Feelings are fleeting. Feelings are fickle. I didn’t know it was there. I had to relearn what it means to be a spiritual being. I put some stock in what God made me feel, but when I became sick I was forced to realize how dangerous this was.

3 “I took for granted the good times.” It’s amazing how much it hurts when we can’t operate like we used to. And it’s unfortunate how many of us don’t stop and consider how fortunate we are. We misuse the gifts and sometimes we control and overpower people with our strong personality and ability to outsmart people. Well, what happens when that’s all taken away? Then what do you do? We should remember whose we are and what we were created for. While I have been sick I have been able to reflect and I’ve realized how much I live for myself. It’s sad, really. I think of me far too much and place far too much attention on me. It’s quite embarrassing once you think about it in light of our God and eternity. It’s hard to imagine what it feels like when your personality changes. Yes, when you get sick it affects your personal makeup, the way you interact, the way you lead, the way you communicate, everything. If I depend on achieving I will eventually get depressed.

4 “Being sick doesn’t change your life.” It reveals who you really are. And being sick is a good time to let people into your lives. It’s an opportunity to see how we respond and struggle through hard times.

5 “Suffering without meaning is despair.” And meaning might not be a two-step formula. It might mean there is no reason at all, just a loving God whose allowed you to hurt. And while he allows it, he hurts with you.

6 “You can’t deny yourself unless you know yourself.” Sure, it helps to study others and how God worked in and through them, but it’s far more impacting to study ourselves, and how God wants to uniquely lead us. I think there’s something drastic missing from our lives when we ignore the study of who we really are. God made us to be unique. He made us with specific distinctions and purposes, yet we don’t put emphasis on learning what those are.

7 “Sometimes we’re so worried about the what, while God is more concerned about our motives.” I may not be able to “discern” or “feel” (if that matters) if my whole heart is not in line with him. I have to be completely surrendered in order to do the what. It’s amazing how “simple” the what is when we’re this way.

8 “Your misperceptions might be perceptions.” When I was a young, brash 17 yr old who was transformed by Christ, following Him was simple, thrilling and impactful. I read the Word and obeyed. Simple as that. I shared my story with others and saw fruit almost every day. Five years later, I started trying to figure everything out and do it “better”. At that moment something began seeping out of me. I have to work hard to remember my salvation, and what matters and doesn’t matter. Misperception: I am called to do this or that. Perception: I am called to “live in Christ, die is gain”, “to make disciples of all nations”.

9 “People will fail you, but our Heavenly Father never will.” I will fail my wife. My wife will fail me. Your earthly Mother and Father will fail you. But our Heavenly Father will never fail you.

10 “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?” Those who do most make the most mistakes. God doesn’t bless leaders. He blesses faith.

Also, this is a word I wrote in my journal the night before:

    I am not seeing God as he really is, as the Old Testament prophets saw him. When I pray and when I ask what he wants I have my own agenda in mind because I doubt that what he wants is what I would want. I have too little respect and perspective of who this Great and Mighty God really is. When I pray in the back of my mind is this little tug-of-war of thoughts saying what I think is best for me and not what he thinks is best. Yet, I am doing this with the Creator of Heavens and earth – the Mightiest thing that my mind can’t even comprehend. Yikes!

As I try to constantly recall this thought, it is changing me!

Nice People Don’t Change the World

June 28, 2007

I just came across this book and idea that resonated with me. It’s by Lynne Hybels, wife of ministry guru Bill Hybels, and I believe it reflects the struggle of “many”. I don’t think this book is for women only, and in my opinion it might as well be called Nice People Don’t Change the World. Yet, she’s writing to women who only in general terms struggle with this more than men (men struggle with it their own ways). But I like how she uses that to help spur women to use their untapped potential, to “respond compassionately” to the world with the “talents, skills, education, and financial resources that women didn’t dream of in the past”.


Nice Girls Don’t Change the World is also about Lynne’s transformational story “from a people pleasing ‘nice girl’ toward becoming a change-maker (or as she prefers to say, a ‘dangerous woman’)”, one “that has taken her through a painful crisis of identity, a pitch-dark night of the soul, and a fierce battle with fear.”

We’ve got to let go.

We’ve got to let go of the things that are tying us down, like fear, perfectionism and pride – and use what God has given us to change the world! We’ve got to stop hesitating and move far and away from passivity and indecisiveness, and have courage. Faith is having hope in the future. Fear is losing hope in the future. God says to never worry about tomorrow, but have hope in it – and focus on today. This is what makes a person come alive!

It’s so hard to motivate those who are gripped by fear because they’re afraid of making a mistake, and with so many options to choose from choosing anything can be a daunting thing. This is why we are afraid of commitment and would rather use our time to watch a few hours of Television than serve the world. And as our confidence drops and our focus hazes we become nice people. When we are too concerned about what people think of us it’s a sign of meism, which is rooted in selfishness and fear. All we have to do is re-surrender our lives to God and put our faith and motives in him, and we’ll move from nice to dangerous.

As Erwin McManus says (as I recall in my head, misquoted), “When we are out of God’s will, we are in danger, but when we are in God’s will we become dangerous.”

Presuming on God

June 11, 2007

A few nights ago, I slowly and carefully read (and digested) Robert Clinton’s systematic masterpiece The Making of a Leader. Words can describe how much I needed this right now. One thing I was particularly struck by was his section on presuming on God, what he calls flesh acts. Here are my notes. Please read!

I don’t want to presume on God any more…ever again!!!! Though, I will. We all will. But we can fight and do our best can’t we? Thought you’d enjoy it too.

Presuming on God

In The Making of a Leader, Clinton writes about the flesh act (pg 136-138. A flesh act, according to Clinton, “refers to those instances in a leader’s life when guidance is presumed and decisions are made either hastily or without proper discernment of God’s choice.” Clinton says, “Such decisions usually involve human manipulation, which brings ramifications that later affect ministry and life negatively.”


What One Hour Means to David Letterman

June 8, 2007

A few years ago, I was in Nashville and had a late dinner with a comedian named Mike Williams. During the conversation he brought up the human struggle a lot of us have of comparing ourselves with others. A perfect example of this is a fellow Comedian, The Tonight Show Host David Letterman. Mike friend and Letterman’s former line writer told him that Letterman is a man who lives for one hour every day, and for the rest of his day he is miserable. Purpose ain’t to be taken for granted is it, and it doesn’t just appear does it? I often ask myself: Do I know who I really am? Do I know what I am called to do? (that’s a trick question, since we all have the same one, right?)

God Rarely Works the Same Way Twice

June 8, 2007

One of my favorite quotes, that’s a good reminder:

“Christian organizations should take careful note that, throughout Scripture, God rarely worked in the same way twice. God’s activity was always unique to the people with whom he was dealing and the time in which he was working. God’s activity cannot be reduced to a formula because God is more concerned with peoples’ obedient response to his will than with what means of communicating his will.” Henry and Richard Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership, pg 59

The Group That Changed The Way I View Discipleship

June 6, 2007

About six months ago, a friend of mine asked me a question. He was a little curious, and wanted to know what I thought was the purpose of this mentor group I was a member of. It was a group of businessmen and ministry leaders led by Boyd Bailey a man who is very special to me and many others. Well, I wrote my friend and said some things I’ve never said before. I didn’t realize until it was almost over that this group and this one man helped changed the way I view discipleship.

So, when I recieved my friend’s email many thoughts rushed through my head and then I wrote the following:

I admit I had lots of reservations coming into this group. My reservations came from this lack of desire to join another Bible Study or accountability-type group. I guess it’s because I’ve been in so many of them that pumped me full of new knowledge and wisdom. I’ve found myself getting caught up (without admitting it of course) in the celebrityness of being around all these great men of God who have written all these great books and accomplished all these amazing things for God and culture. And I felt so high after soaking in their knowledge and wisdom. But it rarely changed me.

So when I felt the Spirit nudging me to be a part of Boyd’s group I was restless, until a few weeks in, when I begin to feel a deeper connection to some of the guys. I began to enjoy Boyd’s laid-back approach and it was evident he cared about us and would do whatever he could for us…with us.

To me, the purpose of the group was to come together and see what God had in store. And I saw amazing things happen throughout the year in each person’s life, including mine, and together off-group time. I looked forward to each meeting because I knew I didn’t have to do something in order to feel respected and loved by the guys. I just innately knew this was an environment of trust and unfailing love. One of the guys in the group lives around the corner from me and has become one of my closest friends, which is one of the most special things to experience in a lifetime that doesn’t just happen.

As a format, it was refreshing to be a part of something that was simple, that just flowed (the kind of flow I enjoyed personally), even without a slight of expectancy (I mean that in a very good way). Different, indeed.

To me, Boyd is an example of grace. He doesn’t try—he just listens, serves and learns with you. I’ve been around too many leaders who feel like it’s their job to present the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon them. That’s not a bad thing. But it seems I’ve never once been changed in the right way by such a process. What has changed me is the people I get to know God with. Those who allow the Spirit to form a bond between brothers and sisters, who open their hearts up to whatever God has in store.

Example: As you know I’ve been able to get to know Josh McDowell who is well-known as someone who has a lot to say. And he does. But knowing Josh McDowell didn’t begin to change me until I begin getting to know him personally. I learned some great information and was affected by the piercing biblical Truth he presented day in and day out, but it was his life that I watched and listened to that awakened me to the unfailing love of God. I could have never experienced that without spending a lot of time with him. I could not have experienced that just hearing him preach and teach every day. Not a chance. Josh actually teaches what I am writing that it’s all about relationships – a perfect blend of truth and relationships. You know, I’ve never even thought of it this way before. Your questioning has blessed me. It’s revealed to me that I am changing. I feel slightly shocked while writing this. Josh’s teaching has taken years to truly resonate with me, to actually become a part of who I am becoming.


Why it’s hard to say “I don’t know”.

May 15, 2007


It is hard to say “I don’t know.”

It is rare, extremely rare to hear those words come out of someone’s mouth, especially someone older. Yet it is a refreshing, even liberating thing to hear. I am impacted when I hear those words come out of someone’s mouth. I want to be able to be true to myself and often say “I just don’t know.”

Other liberating words: “It’s okay.” “It’s okay to make a mistake.” “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?”

Why is it that a man who is 40 feels the need to give his opinion to a man who is 25?

And…just because you are in a leadership position doesn’t make you a leader. Respect, yes, but it’s important to be honest with people. That is, respectfully honest.

I remember it just like it was yesterday.

I approached my friend Larry Green and he said to me these amazing words that still ring in my ear: “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?” That’s it. That’s all I needed to hear.

I was set free from my own victimizing pursuit of perfection.

He was right – I was afraid to try because I was afraid to make a mistake. I heard one guy say one time that those who do most make the most mistakes.

I was talking with someone the other night who was about to approach her supervisors with a kind of honesty she doesn’t normally share. But she’s grown in her leadership to know that it is imperative to be open and honest, plus for her own sanity. As she shared with me what she had in mind, I felt compelled to say to her “you are their leader as much as they are yours.” I mean just because they are in a position over you doesn’t mean you can’t lead them and just because they’re older doesn’t mean you can’t be honest and help them. This is a crucial moment for you, and for them to learn something profound. They need this, to be stretched.

Recently, I looked into my wife Amber’s eyes and said, “I will fail you. You will fail me. But our Heavenly Father will NEVER fail us. We’re all messy lives tied together by a perfect God.” While that may or may not seem like a profound thought to you, it was for me. I need those constant reminders of the grace of God, that it’s okay that I don’t know everything nor will I do everything perfectly.

Be graced.

When We Remember

April 21, 2007

Here I am, sitting comfortably with my lovely laptop…in a cushioned chair at ole Starbucks. I’m in Fort Lauderdale, my favorite getaway. I’m not here to get away – I’m here to focus on all that’s in front of me. Mostly writing stuff.

I hardly ever reveal some of my writing pieces before they’re crisp crossed. But I came across a piece I wrote a while back that’s knee deep in dust by now. It’s been tucked away for years, unused…and quite lonely:) In sure need of a rewrite, but I thought it was a good reminder…you know, that we are in a war fighting for souls of the people we love and care for. That’s everyone, right? It’s unfortunate when we/I let the little, minute things of life, you know, like this darn measly digestive problem or a fainting fatigue slow us/me down from what’s a stake.

When We Remember…

Dirty. Angry. Sick. Cold.

The soldiers felt through a myriad of complex emotions as a long, brute war took a turn and, at last, the Germans fell in defeat.

The American soldiers who lived to tell, from the now famous film Band of Brothers speak of the voices inside their heads—the rage the fueled within them as they finally arrived in Germany after months of treacherous fighting. They became despisers of the German people. With their small window of freedom they were allowed – they drank, found women to sleep with, and the rage was set on fire. Some stole things. Some slept and some wept. But all mourned in their own way.

It was a sad scene to see. Only the few held up to this test of honor, the ones who kept their focus even though the world around them was so distracted. The poor attitudes. The downward depression. It was all there. What do you expect? They had been in the worst war of the twentieth century. They had an up close and personal encounter with death. They had front row seats as their friends lost arms, legs, and lives. It was a cold and rigid war for these men. Now they had to let it all out. They had to vent. Their emotions weren’t made for this. With their guns by their sides, they dealt with it in their own way. What became important was “who got what” as one guy put it. Now they were more concerned about their own property, their own well-being than anything else.



March 14, 2007

The imagination is quite a remarkable thing.

Knowing God is a beckon call to another world. It’s losing yourself in your imagination, a world where people become set free into a life that doesn’t seem possible. Some of my most exciting moments have been the days where I burned with such excitement and passion that felt like I was in another world. I was in the “real” Neverland. With God never becomes actuality.

How far away is your God?

May 9, 2006

Here’s an article I’ve been working on. I’m calling it “Binoculars, please!”

How far away is your God?

I think a relationship with God is a lot like a romance or a love story. If only more people caught on to that kind of thinking. It’s sad when people see God like themselves – self-centered, self-sufficient, in-charge kind of God. Just because we see ourselves that way has no effect on who God is. A.W. Tozer has a lot to say about knowing God. He said the most important thing about you is what you think about when you think about God. What do you think about when you think about God? Is your God far away or close by? Is your God someone who keeps score – who watches you like a hawk and comes down and strikes you when you do the wrong thing? Do you see God like your parent or grandparent – a quiet, proper, old, traditional, forever kind of God? Is your God someone whose so busy running the world he doesn’t have time for you – he’s far away from you has no relevance to your life? There are some who have chosen to be the “I don’t believe in God” people. There are others who are mad about the God thing because of their parents or those who go to college and enjoy buying in to a professor’s views. All of us have constructed a view of God. We carry this view with us through life.

The reality is how you see God is the litmus test that’s going to affect everything single aspect of how you will pursue him. If you haven’t nailed down a God whose love for you as his son or daughter, is more affectionate than you could ever truly understand. If your view of God is wrong then you are going to have difficulty with everything. We read in Daniel that people who know their God will be much stronger.

But you can know how to view God. Did you know God made you for himself – to enjoy, to love, to cherish, hold? When you capture that kind of reality sharing him with others will become your affection too.

This is something that’s dear to my heart because I too never developed a real sense of who God is until Amber and I married and we moved to Atlanta. I started spending time with some people who clearly saw God and life in a different viewpoint than I did. I was captivated by that; confused at first, but intrigued. So I went on this little journey of rediscovering God. It took longer than I anticipated it would because I had to shatter my old view of God. At the Christian university I attended I developed a view of God that was dutiful, rigid, political, rude if needed, always do the right thing over anything else even if it meant to run over people. I don’t want to point fingers at my school. I would never blame them for a view I had of God, but it was there that I developed it and I needed some clarification in my life of who He was. In Atlanta I found it. Two men who really affected me were Louie Giglio and my pastor Andy Stanley. Louie taught a gathering on Tuesday nights and preached at my church some. They were close friends from grade school and grew up in the kind of environment I was used to and where I developed my view of God. And I’m grateful to sit under their preaching especially when I needed to see God in a different light. They know how to speak the language of the culture.

God made you for his pleasure. You were made for God. “All things have been created by God and for God.” You were not only created in God’s image but for his pleasure as well. Inside our hearts are these evidences – these homing devices that intensely crave after God. More is never enough when were after God because we were created to live in deep, passionate communion with Him all the time. When were not, something’s wrong – a gap is created and we thirst for him. We go our searching and while there are these offbeat cultural textures that are after our minds as well, we will stay thirsty until we find God. Some people stay thirsty for a long time. Every human being craves intimacy – a kind that only God can give. Yet some of us aren’t aware of this. This is what happens – we respond to all of this by the way we see Him. If we see him like a God who keeps score then we will try to do things that might make him happy. If we see him as far away then we’ll respond to him like he is far away. If you think he is old or out of touch with us then you will just do what you want because being cool is important to some of us. Some of us think God doesn’t understand us at all.

What’s amazing about God is that right now as you try to understand more about God, God is saying, “I understand what you’re going through. I get the deal.” That means a lot when you enter a stage of confusion and clarification like that. One of his characteristics is patience and He’s committed to patiently wait on you as you go through this process. That’s encouraging! God knows what’s going on, on TV. He knows whose going to win the Amazing Race. God isn’t out to judge us He’s out to capture us with attention, love, and understanding. Who wouldn’t want that?

Here’s an important catch: God has told us about Himself so we could know about who He is. God is not what we choose to think of Him, what our parents or family thinks of Him. God is who He is…period. We have to get in our heads that we can’t decide that, He does. He’s God.

First, we need to unveil his character, what makes God to be God. He’s displayed his amazing traits. God is revealed in his son, Jesus. God established a relationship with us through his son, Jesus. Jesus taught that God is the: Perfect Father. Creator. Savior. Redeemer. Majesty. Ruler. He is: Love. Joy. Patience. Kindness. Faithfulness. Jesus taught you are the: Son. Daughter. He is the Father. This is a love relationship. The greatest romantic story ever told. He sent Jesus for you, his blood filled the gap sin built, the crave we endure. The enemy is out to derail your relationship with God.

He is a knowable and relatable God. He is the tender mercy to a crying heart. He desires to be intimate with me. That’s one that I continue to wallow in.

So now what? We have to say, “I get it and I trust you.” We have to decide that he knows best and put our entire trust in his ways. Tell God, “I trust you.” He loves me more than I love myself. That’s the first step to knowing God and beginning spiritual conversations. He’s in control of every conversation you will have. He’s the one that holds everything together. When we get that – our lives become fluid, something God can fill up and overflow on to others. Conversations are nothing more than an overflow of what God is doing inside of us. The intimacy spreads through others and we get the privilege of enjoying community like it was meant to be. Then there’s connectiveness in our lives.

Once we understand how God sees us, it should free us up to pursue him.

Converse with him.

We don’t have all the answers, but Jesus surely does. He encourages us to experience him, to bring him into the conversation we so desire to have. We are limited in what we offer, but Jesus is limitless. No boundaries with him.

So, go for it!

Talk to him. Love on him. Then go love on others. And leave the rest of the story to the storyteller. You’re immersed in something that’s far more beautiful that you’re most amazing mindscapes can comprehend. Something compelling.

You’ll never tire of hearing about God when it’s truly representing who he is. That makes life so exciting and liberating doesn’t it? The story never ends.

When you spend time with him it’s not like going online, it’s more like sitting down on the couch and together having an intimate talk. The difference is that God sends his spirit to interact through the conversation. The spirit makes it a lot more intimate. In the spirit you feel his love and his pride in you. Your outlook of the world all of sudden turns small. You realize that the world is so minute compared to the Creator of the Universe. The only downsize, if there is one to those who experience this amazing connection, is that it takes more time with him, to really grasp the reality that he won’t be able to fill your spirit like that all the time unless you keep seeking him. You crave for it. You search for it. You try all kinds of ways to fill that vacuum that you’ve had before. You learn over time that he can’t do it for you unless you allow him to. It’s called freedom of choice. Through time, if we’re willing to endure and keep searching, we’ll learn how to discipline ourselves to hear his voice and obey. We’ll learn how to talk to him and get results. It is a discipline and a language. People don’t master it they just trust him and go with it. A person who is godly isn’t someone who knows a lot about God; it’s someone who knows God and maintains a vibrant relationship with him.

Conversations with God / Conversoulogy

I’ve heard some people say that life is one big conversation. The life you live is a conversation with God.

In the Spring of 1997—it was in the middle of February, as I recall.

I heard someone say one time a lot of us are sure as hell about things, but do you want to be as sure as heaven?

It was a timely moment for me. I cried out for a connection with God. I was stung. My pain had to go away—I knew I needed to be healed. I was almost completely certain that only God could heal me. I believed it for a moment—just a moment—a divine moment it was. Immediately everything changed.

So what healed me? God did. How did he heal me? -Through my heart’s cry for him. He wants to be sought. Now I wanted to play my role as the seeker. He’s God. I’m man. He’s to be sought while I’m to seek Him. It truly makes sense.

That day I began to have conversations with God. It’s called prayer. A guy named Charles Spurgeon said it best: “prayer is the slender nerve that touches the omnipotence of God.” Ever since that day I’ve been in this magnificent dialogue with the Creator…aka CEO himself.

Before then I couldn’t talk to him, nor thought I really wanted to. The reason I didn’t want to was because God cannot hear us until we thoroughly introduce ourselves. I had introduces myself the way people told me to, but I didn’t really want it that badly. It wasn’t until that day that I really wanted it and when I did, he came and I’ve spent every day since wishing the world could experience what I’ve experienced.

I told a guy the other day “you’ll meet God when you figure out that he works. Am I right?” His reply was, “I think you’re right.” I said, well hang with me a little while and you find out that he works. He said, “Great.” Well, this young intellectual had told me just weeks before that conversation that he didn’t believe in one God. Yet, he’s admitting openly and honestly now that if there is one God and he discovers a piece of him, he’ll believe it. That’s the way a lot of people are. They don’t believe it because they haven’t met Him. Until you meet him you won’t understand.

Generalization is the death of art. It’s in the details where God resides.

The Need to Conquer…the Harder to Fall

February 8, 2006

The longings of my heart is to pour the gospel message into people’s lives. I am not so much of a brain surgeon—I am into doing the heart-surgery thing on people’s lives. But the intertwining thought that continually tangles my mind is how can I be the person God made me to be. It wasn’t long ago that my role seemed so complicated compared to everyone else.

I would assess and evaluate and seek counsel and look everywhere for that fit. All of this has led me back to the same mind-boggling questions and the same desperation I’ve always had. And I wonder if there’s no other way than to aggressively and intentionally go.

That’s the way my journey with Christ began. I went…hard! I found wavering souls and fed them the food of God. Lives began to change. My life was like a sailboat…and I glided with the wind of God. I didn’t have time to think…only time to proactively pour my life into the word, prayer and the powerhouses of teachings in all kinds of books, tapes and the men of God to spend time with. The overflow of all of that was to step out in faith and point people upward to Jesus and then to help guide them into a similar walk I had. The power was eminent!

Then things started to unravel as I found something to conquer.

Beforehand, I had nothing to conquer, only everything to lose. My life revolved around losing in order to gain; giving in order to receive; staying weak as the only way to be strong. But in college I found something to have and enjoy and settle on.

Of all the things in the world, it was a relationship with my future wife. We had something that was truly incredible, a story only God could weave. But the moment we acknowledged to each other that we were going to be soul mates for the rest of our lives, in my mind I felt like a conquering hero.

At the top of my game I began to let the very thing that brought so much joy to my life take me down. I really had no idea this was going on. I was in love and at the point where I had it all—a walk with God, a very fruitful life, and a wife very few people get to have.

This was a woman who is special and everyone who knows her can see it. She’s as true of a Proverbs 31 woman of God as you’ll ever find, even at a young age. So I had my trophy now and everything else seemed less spectacular. The high of my game became the unraveling.

Success is such a danger isn’t it? The more you obtain, the more you have to lose. Even the good things in a life can become the idol that brings you down.

There’s something to be said about the man who maintains a perspective that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The more we learn and the more we become can eventually become our biggest threat.

The constant fight – to be more consumed with God than anything else – the world, the becoming, the having, the wanting, the expectations, and even the pursuit. It’s God’s deal or nothing at all. We are meant to be slaves of the Master in word and deed.

Ravi Zacharias noted in This We Believe:
“A modern-day writer, jack Higgins, was asked at the pinnacle of his success what he now knows that he wished he had known as a younger man. ‘I wished I had known that when you get to the top, there is nothing there.’”

Three pertinent questions that can take you towards God or separate you far away from him:

What am I after? What do I want? What do I want to live for?

It’s a Heart Issue

January 9, 2006

Tozer has me thinking this morning.

You and I are a part of the legion of seekers who’ll only find what we’re looking for in the quietness of the soul. The ones who find God discover this.

Tozer reminds me that I won’t find the soul connection with God in something. There is no particular method for finding what everyone’s looking for. People flee the norm world for a getaway condominium of rest and quietness, but only discover their thirst unquenched. Rest is found where God is – and God for you might be a closet or a parking lot. Rest assured, he is found when he is sought and rest flows from without.

Life and world issues that are thrust upon us are heart issues. We are so entrenched in what happens to us, or protecting what we have (especially, if it’s good), when the root of our happiness is in knowing how to react and pro-act to life. We jump into life waiting for the world to take us where it wants, but it’s a never-ending cycle isn’t it?
All of life’s issues are heart issues.

A generation is crumbling not because of it’s misuse of sexuality, but because they haven’t uncovered the power of the heart. You find the heart of life in the quietness of the soul – where God resides. It’s the place where you find the intimacy you’ve been looking for you’re whole life. When you taste it, you’ll do whatever you can to get it back.

Yet we want to focus on what to take way. “I’m struggling with this sin so I need to stop watching TV.” That maybe a great idea but I can guarantee you it’s not your problem. Your problem is in the heart. Go find your heart – the heart of God – the intimacy you long for. Satan wants to point you toward a TV, but it’s all part of his confusing scheme. The issues is we’re selfish. We live for ourselves. That’s the root of our struggle and sin.

When you taste God for who he is, you’ll never forget it. Nothing – not an experience or a preacher or a book or a overseas trip or anything can compare with tasting God like he truly is. There’s freedom and rest and understanding and single-mindedness and willingness that pours in here.

You can have all the money and possessions in the world, but if you lack this you’ll stay restless. God doesn’t want us to live in poverty, but it might take that (like the young rich ruler) to get your heart. It might not take giving much of it up at all. All that God wants is your heart – the motives, desires, tastes, all of it. You’re just be managing what he already owns anyway. Why would he care about taking away your things? Everything with God has to do with the heart. If he asks you to give up something, it’s because he’s after your heart. You just have to trust him and obey him with a fierce single-mindedness.

A close friend sought God and found him. Then God led him to give up his very influential and lucrative career to pursue his God-given aspiration. He did. But months later after God knew he had his heart, he led him back to his old career with an even more affluent position, only this time he was working with churches. God wanted his heart and my friend gave it to him.

I have this thing about giving up on God. What I mean is: I give up on God a lot. I’ve often thought up my own ways too much. My wife has told me in the past that my mind is my greatest strength and greatest weakness. I can think up stuff with my mind that is good, but that same ability can be used negatively. There have been moment when I’d have this thing for scheming up reasons why I need to do things a certain way rather than uncovering his heart. I’d convince myself I found his heart when I’m really still searching. The more I go through this motion the better, but it’s a tiring and turbulent way to live.

We go to God for an answer. We go to God out of duty. Why not go to God to stay synched. When you need to make a decision, the answer is right there, in the spirit that has you completely full and content. It’s common sense to keep oneself synched up through the word of God and conversation with God.

Why are we afraid to teach people about the heart? They get it…at least, they can pick up if we know the heart or not. And they will look at you like, “Why haven’t you shared this before? This explains everything!”

Six Viewpoints

January 6, 2006

I just did an article on evangelism for a magazine. I thought I’d post some of the viewpoints I propose (a modern magazine needs points).

1) Transformation is a life-long process, not just a one-time event.

2) Unless we put more emphasis on authentic, connective relationships we will lose this generation.

3) The most effective evangelism strategy is to cultivate genuine friendships with people who are non-believers and engage them in thoughtful, respectful conversation about what’s important to them.

4) Those with the foresight and strength to speak the truth in love will have the most impact.

5) Genuine humility and love will win over anyone anytime!

6) Centralize everything with Jesus. They like Jesus but they don’t like the church.

My Soul’s Dark Night

December 7, 2005

Today, I read an article in Christianity Today by Chuck Colson entitled My Soul’s Dark Night. I took away some great, deep insight, and thought you’d enjoy some of the things he said too.

We’re taught in most Christian circles to “rely on the still, small voice of God cheering us on” no matter how dark our days are. And you’re not human if you don’t experience those. But what if God seems absent? Does that mean we’ve lost faith. I don’t think so, and neither does Colson.

“I’m not sure how well the contemporary evangelical world prepares us for this struggle, which I suspect many evangelicals experience but fear to admit because of the expectations we create. At such times, we can turn for strength to older and richer theological traditions probably unfamiliar to many—writings by saints who endured agonies both physical and spiritual.”

“A prominent pastor once told me he experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence every moment. Contemporary evangelicals regard this as maturity. Perhaps it is—or maybe it is a form of presumption. True faith trusts even when every outward reality tells us there is no reason to. Faith becomes strongest when we are without consolation and must walk into the darkness with complete abandon. As theologian Michael Novak explains, true faith says, “Let this be done, Lord, according to your will”—even if we don’t know what “this” is.”

Can we really rely on our intimacy with God? Colson doesn’t think so.

“It struck me that I don’t have to make sense of the agonies I bear or hear a clear answer. God is not a creature of my emotions or senses. God is God, the one who created me and takes responsibility for my children’s destiny and mine. I can only cling to the certainty that he is and he has spoken.”

“Evangelicals must rely on more than cheerful tunes, easy answers, and happy smiles. We must dig deeply into the church’s treasures to find what it is like to worship God, not because of our circumstances, but in spite of them.”

“Countless times over the years I’ve experienced God and his providence, but I’ve also known the dark night. God, I’ve realized, is not just the friend who takes my hand, but also the great, majestic Creator who reigns forever.”

God is God no matter what we feel, no matter what we see, no matter what circumstances we have to endure.

It’s truly refreshing when someone speaks the honest truth about something we all go through.

I learned a lot from this short piece that you can read in it’s entirety at:

How Are We Missing It?

November 23, 2005

I’ve often wondered lately if there is a need for a deeper muse about Christian sexuality. That there’s more to the story than what’s being told. Do you agree? Why do you think the younger generations and twentysomethings tend to buck what God says about sex? Presentation? Culture Saturation?

Sex, love, beauty and relationships can be better understood and so much more esteemed. In God’s world they are gifts to be cherished, not mountains to climb. We are prized with a treasure.

A gift isn’t given to someone to be misused, is it? It’s meant to be valued and appreciated.

This is a spiritual war.

We are placed in a war, where we have to fight to stay alive. And sex is one of Satan’s greatest tools.

But there is healing and hope and a revolutionary life we’re called to live, the life role we desire to play, the adventure we’re meant to take. All we’re used to is a backdrop message of don’ts. Now, we want something real. We want viable answers to our curious and perplexing questions. We want to have a real, honest conversation about life and love.

• Life is a journey. The destination is left in God’s hands.
• Life is a walk. The results are left in God’s hands.
• Life is an adventure. The mundane and boring are left in God’s hands to be challenged.
• Life is a revolution. The make it through the day type will be captured by the enemy.
• Life is about the heart. The moment you shut down the heart, you stop living.

You get the gist of it. There’s just more to purity than abstinence. How come the young people I talk don’t understand it like this?

Following God with Our Sexuality

November 16, 2005

It seems that the central difficulty is determining how we live our lives.

Sometimes, we uncover an answer…but sometimes we don’t. Why is that? Sometimes, we fall on our face, while other times we figure it all out. How is that? That a deep desire for what’s good and what’s right can be replaced by intense desires to do the complete opposite – what is wrong. Maybe, just maybe, this problem doesn’t have to do with what we’re taught, but rather by what’s caught and understood. Maybe, there’s something to be said by what’s clearly understood, by what’s clearly happening to us. Allow me to share with you, then, an excerpt, from the book Amber and I are working on. Simple, yet deep-seated questions, that we all have faced one time or another…

We live in a world, don’t we, that is plastered with sexual images, one that has a constant power to manilpulate our minds and poison our hearts? So…what can we possibly do? How do we counteract such a powerful force? Do we need a doctor, or do we need a guide? Do we need a discourse, or do we need hope that sticks? Sure, everyone desires to have the adventure of romance, but the adventure of sex calls too, doesn’t it? So the question is: Is it possible to maintain a holiness in the midst of what seems unavoidable?

This generation, more than ever, is crying out for some real life answers to the tough issues that inhabit their lives every single day they waken to. Allow me to propose another question: What would it look like if high school and college students, and twentysomethings alike, embraced the reality that purity is only a single subset of our real desire to please our Heavenly Father?

What would it look like if they caught on to a piece of God they’ve never seen before, a part of his being that says, “You can follow Me with your sexuality, just like you can with every other part of our life.”

Carlos Santana on Religion…

November 11, 2005

“Spirituality is saying, “May the heavens open up and angels bless everyone with a deep awareness of his own light.” Religion is saying that only Jesus got the light, you’re full of $%&@ , and you are in the dark. They are the only ones that got it, and you’ve gotta go through them to get it. Man, in this life the only thing that’s holy is your relationship with your heart, your family, and the air you breathe.”

-USA Weekend

On the Cover of Rolling Stone

October 30, 2005

With thanks to for this…

Excerpts from Rolling Stone’s interview this week with Bono:

Q:What role did religion play in your childhood?

A:I knew that we were different on our street because my mother was Protestant. And that she’d married a Catholic. At a time of strong sectarian feeling in the country, I knew that was special. We didn’t go to the neighborhood schools — we got on a bus. I picked up the courage they had to have had to follow through on their love.

Q:Did you feel religious when you went to church?

A:Even then I prayed more outside of the church than inside. It gets back to the songs I was listening to; to me, they were prayers. “How many roads must a man walk down?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question to me. It was addressed to God. It’s a question I wanted to know the answer to, and I’m wondering, who do I ask that to? I’m not gonna ask a schoolteacher. When John Lennon sings, “Oh, my love/For the first time in my life/My eyes are wide open” — these songs have an intimacy for me that’s not just between people, I realize now, not just sexual intimacy. A spiritual intimacy.

Q:Who is God to you at that point in your life?

A:I don’t know. I would rarely be asking these questions inside the church. I see lovely nice people hanging out in a church. Occasionally, when I’m singing a hymn like . . . oh, if I can think of a good one . . . oh, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or “Be Thou My Vision,” something would stir inside of me. But, basically, religion left me cold.

Q:Your early songs are about being confused, about trying to find spirituality at an age when most anybody else your age would be writing about girls and trouble.

A:Yeah. We sorta did it the other way around.

Q:You skipped “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and you went right . . .

A:. . . Into the mystic. Van Morrison would be the inverse, in terms of the journey. It’s this turbulent period at fifteen, sixteen, and the electrical storms that come at that age…

Q:You never saw rock & roll — the so-called devil’s music — as incompatible with religion?

Look at the people who have formed my imagination. Bob Dylan. Nineteen seventy-six — he’s going through similar stuff. You buy Patti Smith: Horses — “Jesus died for somebody’s sins/But not mine . . .” And she turns Van Morrison’s “Gloria” into liturgy. She’s wrestling with these demons — Catholicism in her case. Right the way through to Wave, where she’s talking to the pope.

The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. So the blues, on one hand — running away; gospel, the Mighty Clouds of Joy — running towards. And later you came to analyze it and figure it out.

The blues are like the Psalms of David. Here was this character, living in a cave, whose outbursts were as much criticism as praise. There’s David singing, “Oh, God — where are you when I need you?/You call yourself God?” And you go, this is the blues.

Both deal with the relationship with God. That’s really it. I’ve since realized that anger with God is very valid. We wrote a song about that on the Pop album — people were confused by it — “Wake Up Dead Man”: “Jesus, help me/I’m alone in this world/And a fucked-up world it is, too/Tell me, tell me the story /The one about eternity/And the way it’s all gonna be/Wake up, dead man.”

Q:Soon after starting the band you joined a Bible-study group — you and Larry and Edge — called the Shalom. What brought that on?

A:We were doing street theater in Dublin, and we met some people who were madder than us. They were a kind of inner-city group living life like it was the first century A.D.

They were expectant of signs and wonders; lived a kind of early-church religion. It was a commune. People who had cash shared it. They were passionate, and they were funny, and they seemed to have no material desires…

But it got a little too intense, as it always does; it became a bit of a holy huddle. And these people — who are full of inspirational teaching and great ideas — they pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn’t bother them. But very soon it appeared that was not the case. They started asking questions about the music we were listening to. Why are you wearing earrings? Why do you have a mohawk?…

Q:What draws you so deeply to Martin Luther King?

A:So now — cut to 1980. Irish rock group, who’ve been through the fire of a certain kind of revival, a Christian-type revival, go to America. Turn on the TV the night you arrive, and there’s all these people talking from the Scriptures. But they’re quite obviously raving lunatics.

Suddenly you go, what’s this? And you change the channel. There’s another one. You change the channel, and there’s another secondhand-car salesman. You think, oh, my God. But their words sound so similar . . . to the words out of our mouths.

So what happens? You learn to shut up. You say, whoa, what’s this going on? You go oddly still and quiet. If you talk like this around here, people will think you’re one of those. And you realize that these are the traders — as in t-r-a-d-e-r-s — in the temple.

Until you get to the black church, and you see that they have similar ideas. But their religion seems to be involved in social justice; the fight for equality. And a Rolling Stone journalist, Jim Henke, who has believed in you more than anyone up to this point, hands you a book called Let the Trumpet Sound — which is the biography of Dr. King. And it just changes your life.

Even though I’m a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers: They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back. Except when I’m with the black church. I feel relaxed, feel at home; my kids — I can take them there; there’s singing, there’s music.

Q:What is your religious belief today? What is your concept of God?

A:If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there’s a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in “straw poverty”; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.

Q:How does it make sense?

A:As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It’s so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don’t use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I’m the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut…

Q:How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?

A:It sustains me.

Q:As a belief, or as a literary thing?

A:As a belief. These are hard subjects to talk about because you can sound like such a dickhead. I’m the sort of character who’s got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I’m going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it’s sort of underpinning for me.

I don’t read it as a historical book. I don’t read it as, “Well, that’s good advice.” I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It’s a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you’re in. It seems to do that for me.

Q:You’re saying it’s a living thing?

A:It’s a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you’re at, if you’re still enough. I’m writing a poem at the moment called “The Pilgrim and His Lack of Progress.” I’m not sure I’m the best advertisement for this stuff.

Q:What do you think of the evangelical movement that we see in the United States now?

A:I’m wary of faith outside of actions. I’m wary of religiosity that ignores the wider world. In 2001, only seven percent of evangelicals polled felt it incumbent upon themselves to respond to the AIDS emergency. This appalled me. I asked for meetings with as many church leaders as would have them with me. I used my background in the Scriptures to speak to them about the so-called leprosy of our age and how I felt Christ would respond to it. And they had better get to it quickly, or they would be very much on the other side of what God was doing in the world.

Amazingly, they did respond. I couldn’t believe it. It almost ruined it for me — ’cause I love giving out about the church and Christianity. But they actually came through: Jesse Helms, you know, publicly repents for the way he thinks about AIDS.

I’ve started to see this community as a real resource in America…

(Excerpted from RS 986, November 3, 2005) Read more here. Or better yet, buy the magazine.

Thinking Like Jesus

October 26, 2005

The great struggle I have and I am quite sure many others have too, is what to think. My mind seems to think progress and loyalty and leadership and decisions. In my mind, to be successful is important and I like to think I am on the track towards that. It’s not money for me its accomplishment. Money wouldn’t hurt, but significance and respect rank higher up on the scale. My generational sin is pride, not material things or morality. Sure, my mind is intentional and so I evaluate everything I can to make sure I am on the right track. But to what?

Yet, in the midst of this type of thinking, I am called to think like Jesus. I am called to the role of a servant, a slave of my Savior and a servant to humanity. So, how do I balance thinking like Jesus with getting results intentionally?

When I think like Jesus, I am restful and just do my best.
When I think like culture, I am driven and have to be the best.

When I think like Jesus, I am joyful.
When I think like culture, I am a self-made optimist.

When I think like Jesus, I value people as the most important thing in the world.
When I think like culture, I value people for my own benefit.

When I think like Jesus, all circumstances are opportunities to trust God.
When I think like culture, circumstances determine my happiness.

When I think like Jesus, my time is his time.
When I think like culture, my time is results-oriented.

When I think like Jesus, I enjoy life inside out.
When I think like culture, I endure life outside in.

When I think like Jesus, it’s all about him.
When I think like culture, it’s all about me – even though I think I’m doing it for him.

When I think like Jesus, what’s important to him is important to me.
When I think like culture, what’s important is what’s produces results.

When I think like Jesus, I read the Bible to talk to God.
When I think like culture, I read the Bible to help me fulfill the mission I think he’s called me to.

When I think like Jesus, I don’t carry any burdens.
When I think like culture, I carry the world on my shoulders.

When I think like Jesus, I don’t have a problem – they’re all his.
When I think like culture, I have many problems to fix.

So, why don’t I think like Jesus more often?
Thinking like Jesus is a cultural clash and we have to fight to keep it!

So Jesus, what do you want to do today?

Spiritual Environments

October 23, 2005

This morning I was interviewed in a leadership breakfast led by Travis Vaughn, who is a good friend and pastor of a church plant in Cumming called Lake Ridge Church. This discussion stemmed from Travis’ desire to see his leadership team create more spiritual environments where people could ask questions about life and God.

I’m not going to go into detail with where the dialogue went but I’d like to share a couple things that I seem to keep bringing up lately when people ask me about the conversations I’m having…

• They don’t like the church or even Christianity but they do like Jesus.
• We have this “thing” with assumptions. We assume people think like we do. No one – I mean no one likes it when someone assumes something about them.
• Why is our evangelism efforts focused on recievers, rather than real people?
• Why do we assume that when a person becomes a Christian they are automatically a disciple?
• From my experience the number one way to have lots of amazing spiritual conversations is humility. If you’re humble anyone will talk to you. How can we be an image-bearer without it?
• The message we must present today needs to focus on heaven and the honing device our hearts are already after rather than hell and the decietful heart. Jesus’ message is and was attractive!
• We must put our ideas into a language people experience on a daily basis.
• Is our goal to become better Christians or more Christ-like? The most important thing is to do what Jesus told us to do. We have got to get our heads out of cultural Christianity, if we are going to create powerful spiritual environments.
• People do want to have spiritual conversations! It all depends on how you go about it.
• The two hot bed topics in my conversations with 20 something’s: spirituality and sexuality.

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