Category Archives: Leadership

Led by the Spirit

When being led by the Holy Spirit…

I am able to choose to not bring work home with me, even though I work from home.

I find more humor in life.

I smile more. I laugh more. I play more.

I remember it is not about me.

I hear God speak to me through Scripture. Passages I have read before suddenly come alive with new meaning and power.

I treat my wife like the treasure she is.

I work hard, but without a frantic edge to my efforts. Because I know only the effort is up to me. The results are up to God. If God wills it, I cannot stop it. I may hinder God’s progress, if He allows me to. But I cannot ultimately thwart his desire. The converse is also true.

I share more. I tip better at restaurants. I give more freely of my time and energy. I invite other people into the work of God with me.

I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

I seek joy-filled music.

I sit on the floor and play with my kids. Without thinking that I am wasting time.

I live creatively.

I write.

I pray without watching the clock. I give without counting the cost. I serve without expectation.

I lead. And I follow.

I work less. And get more done.

I live into the paradox.

God gives me eyes to see and ears to hear.

I live out of abundance instead of scarcity. Trust instead of fear. Hope instead of despair.

I seek first the Kingdom of God. And I find that all those other things are given to me, as well.


Emily’s Famil

I was in Honduras on a mission trip last week. I was only gone for six days. But six days can seem like an eternity to a six-year-old. And my six-year-old was missing her Daddy something fierce.

self-portrait of a future world leader

To alleviate some of the tearfulness, my wife threw out a sure-win idea. At least usually it’s a sure-win. “Y’all get your jammies on and we can all snuggle on the couch and watch America’s Got Talent.” Don’t be a hater. Your family probably watches something just as bad. It’s one of our family shows. We record it, saving it for when we have the time to watch all together, turn off the lights, pop some popcorn and enjoy. We love us some Nick Cannon.

Even while the big kids cheered, Momma knew this was not going to go over well. Little Emily crossed her arms, pushed out her bottom lip and boldly stated, “NO.” Now, in our house we don’t call this impertinence. We call this strong leadership skills.

Being the consummate persuader she is (never lost an argument in 18 years, at least not to me), my wife sat her down to talk.

“Sweetie. I know you’re sad that Daddy’s not here. But we recorded the show and he can watch it when he comes home.”

“NO.” Not backtalk. Strong negotiation.

“Well then, when Daddy comes home we can all watch it again together.”

“NO.” Stands her ground in the face of opposition.

“Daddy would want us to have family time.”

At which point Emily burst into fresh buckets of tears. “It’s our family show. We can’t have family time without Daddy.” She re-states her position.

“Oh baby, we can still have family time. We’re still a family.”

“No, Mommy. Daddy’s not here. We’re not a family. We’re just a famil.”

How’s that for vision casting?

Just a famil.

And just like that our genius / entrepreneur / future TIME magazine Person of the Year changed the game*. Like any great leader, she changed the game by re-defining the terms. Which is exactly what we’re trying to do in our Grace community. Re-define. Re-think. Re-imagine. Create a new and different way of being the Church.

Then maybe “church” won’t mean “a place people go” or “something people do on Sunday morning”. Maybe “church” will no longer be synonymous with “boring” and “judgmental” and “greedy”. Maybe, just maybe, with the help of the Holy Spirit and six-year-olds we can begin to re-capture some of the original essence of the word. And Church will truly become a family, living out our faith together.

Instead of just a famil.

* Please note I said “changed the game” not “won the game”. The little one may be Speaker of the House, but Momma still holds veto power.


God Says Wait

“If man lived apart with Me and only went out to serve at My direct command,

My Spirit could operate more and accomplish truly might things” (God Calling, June 18).

God says wait.

We say, “Gotta do something.”

Actually, we don’t.

God says wait.

We say, “Somethings better than nothing.”

Except when it’s not.

God says wait.

We say, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Wrong-o! God helps those who can’t help themselves. That’s the whole point.

He leaves the rest of us to our own paltry efforts.

God ways wait.

We immediately start doing.

This waiting of Yours is active, not passive. More about not pressing than about doing nothing. There’s a time and a place for doing nothing, but that is another thing, apart from uttering a holy “no”. This is not just sitting on the couch, waiting for a divine presence to sweep us to our feet in a maelstrom of Christian action. That’s not waiting, that’s just lazy.

This waiting, Your waiting involves confidently following whatever ideas and thoughts and leads You give me. Confident not that I can make or force anything to work out, but that You will, in Your way and time.

Active waiting means letting You lead, waiting on Your direction, not inventing my own. It is trying out my thoughts and ideas, with less concern over their success than about determining which ones come from You.

Active waiting is me taking care of business (TCB baby!), while allowing, trusting, expecting You to take care of results. I do my part. I let You do Yours.

We must say no to opportunities and chances and possibilities beyond number. We must say no, because only if we say no and no and no again will we ever be able to shout YES!

We must wait. Ooh, but it’s hard. Waiting. Patiently. Actively. Expectently.

We must listen. Ooh, that’s harder. Listening. For God’s still small voice in the midst of the winds of busy-ness. We must be still and quiet in order to hear.

We must let God do His part. Let Him call us, direct us, command. Then and only then comes our yes. And our doing becomes a holy doing, not the worthless striving of vain, inglorious man. But the holy work of a righteous God.

There we find our purpose, our meaning, our true calling. There, living into the holy yes, we taste greatness, perhaps for the very first time.


Chocolate Jesus

Chocolate Jesus looks a lot like Buddy Christ

So my wife was listening to the radio the other day, to a “Christian” radio station (though how any non-sentient entity – schools, t-shirts, nations – can live as a disciple of Jesus is beyond me) which shall remain nameless, though to be fair, it is most often positive and encouraging. She heard about a fabulous ministry that was seeing thousands of men come to Christ at biker rallies across the nation. But that’s not the best part of the story. The best part is how they count all those conversions.

Turns out this ministry hands out tickets for a raffle where the main prize is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. And how do you get one of these golden tickets? Easy. Just give your life to Jesus. That’s right. At a motorcycle rally. Surrounded by folks who believe in Harleys the way Texans believe in boots. Some of them Christians. Most of them not. Commit your life to Christ and get a free raffle ticket. Seriously. I can imagine their advertising slogans.

“Giving your heart to Jesus gives you a chance to win!”

“Jesus wins your heart and you could win a new bike!”

“Let Jesus rides into your life and you could ride off on a brand, new Harley!”

I wonder… Can you enter more than once? Are you allowed to give your life to Christ multiple times at the same rally? Or do you need the chance to backslide from your new found faith before you re-up? Let me ask you a question. If I don’t believe in God, and I’m okay with lying, in a general sort of way, why would I bother being truthful with some religious stranger? But sure enough, counting raffle tickets is how they track conversions, how they define success. We gave out 100 raffle tickets, so that is 100 people who are now going to Heaven.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? This is what’s wrong with the Church! These people, these kinds of Christians, this manner of thinking. When you apply a modern answer to a pre-modern question this is the kind of nightmare you end up with. And you know, it’s not even this ministry, really, that is the problem. It’s the horrible theology and pathetic teaching that led them down this path of logical conclusion. Hey, if giving the correct answer to a question that’s not even in the Bible is all that matters, then why not bribe people to say yes?

These are the people who have made “salvation” into a plural. Salvation is not plural, you morons! It cannot be plural, by its very definition. There are no “salvations”. You cannot get “salvations”. The question, “How many salvations did you get by bribing bikers at a motorcycle rally?” is non-sensical. But how can you expect the vast expanse of Evangelicalism to understand this? These are the same people who brought you “testa-mints” (www.testamints.com). The same people who created Stryper, Christian bumper stickers and Veggie Tales.  The ones who buy art from Christian bookstores (on the nature of a store being Christian, see paragraph one above). These are the folks who choose to live in the Christian ghetto.

I’m surprised none of them have created a Chocolate Jesus* for Easter. I mean, come on, the marketing opportunities alone are endless. Picture little Susie’s chocolate smeared face with the caption, “I love Jesus, and he tastes good, too!” Or maybe there’s Bobby, outside on the front lawn, smiling ear to ear with a Veggie Tales video in one hand and a headless Jesus in the other. Bobby says, “I gave my heart to Jesus. Then I ate him.”

Oh, I know. You could do a milk chocolate Jesus for our Latino friends, a dark chocolate Jesus for the African-American community and a white chocolate Jesus the Southern Baptist Convention.

Picture the milk chocolate Jesus, hands outstretched, instead of candy eyes he has three cherry candy wounds. A crown of thorns made from red licorice is included. Maybe do a jelly filled version that comes with a miniature spear? A hard candy cross on which you can actually hang your Chocolate Jesus? No, no, a deluxe set, complete with two extra crosses, two thieves, the Roman Centurion and a Peeps marshmallow tomb — only $89.99, quantities limited, free shipping if you order in the next hour!

Oh, my friends, Faith is about following the Master, not answering a question. It is marked by a life of devotion to Christ in the world, not separated from it. Giving oneself to Christ is a good thing. And yes, every journey has a beginning point, though sometimes we only recognize the starting line in hindsight. But this relationship, like every healthy relationship, simply cannot be founded on false motives, on emotional slight-of-hand, on bribery. Remember, the wise man builds his house upon rock. And this theology, this get-’em-through-the-gates by any means necessary approach to God, is simply built on sand. Faith like this will not stand for long. It cannot. It has nothing to stand on.

So by all means, reach out to those in the biker communities. Or rather, help the Christians already in those communities reach out. Those Christ followers who bear their clubs’ colors have a Faith many of us can only dream of. Absolutely tell people about Jesus, share the gospel message, and more importantly, live it out. Be the good news people long to hear. Pour out your life as a blessing to others. Lead people into God’s Kingdom. Offer them the Salvation of Christ. Walk with them as they discover resurrection life.

Followers of Jesus are called to be salt and light in the world. You cannot be salt and light in the world when you hide out in your church’s bowling alley so you won’t have to bowl with people who drink beer. You cannot be salt and light when you are too busy being slick and marketable. The world needs us to be salt and light. Both are simple, intrinsic, valuable, necessary and their own things. Salt adds flavor. Light adds vision. And if the Church had more flavor and more vision then maybe the world would listen to what we have to say. Being salt and light is more difficult than selling raffle tickets. Salt and light yield fewer short term results than bribery. But their long-term effectiveness is amazing. Like Robert Earl’s road, they both go on forever.

Oh, and one more thing, don’t forget the Chocolate Jesus.

* Chocolate Jesus is a registered trademark of Eat Him Or Else Ministries. It is used here by permission and is not intended to be copyrighted, reproduced or retransmitted in any way, shape or form without the express written consent of the National Football League. Any unauthorized use of the term Chocolate Jesus is punishable by fine (30 pieces of silver) and/or imprisonment (30 days in Purgatory, the spiritual realm not the ski resort). Chocolate Jesus is a consumable confectionary not intended for use as a toy. For ages 3+. Does not walk on water.


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