6.10.2011

Great Leaders Do Not Manage Time

Great leaders use time and the random events that occupy time throughout the course of the day as a way of guiding their organizations.  Rather than attempting to manage their time, they lead the people they encounter as time is taken by each person, event, and meeting.  This article from Harvard Business Review explains: http://blogs.hbr.org/hill-lineback/2011/03/better-time-management-is-not.html

6.08.2011

Meeting Jesus at the Corner of Deerfield & Rosemary

I've always wanted to use Joan Osborne's "What If God Was One of Us" in worship.  On Sunday, CUMC's Betty Merta sang it as an introduction to my sermon entitled "Meeting Jesus at the Corner of Deerfield & Rosemary" (which is where CUMC is located).  

8.30.2010

5th Sundays

My congregation uses the four 5th Sundays each year to do very unique worship that is children-oriented, lively and engaging. Besides the great benefits to the kids, the congregation gets the benefit of participating in non-traditional worship. I personally love the challenge to stretch my creativity and imagination to come up with a very unique worship service. Its a whole lot of work, time, energy, and thought but well worth everything put into it.

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8.24.2010

3.31.2010

A Prayer Shaped Life- Intro

"For at last I believe life itself is a prayer,
and the prayers we say shape the lives we live,
just as the lives we live shape the prayers we say;
and it all shapes the kingdom which expresses itself in and among us,
and for which we are guerrillas."
(found in introduction of
Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder)

I find Loder's words to be right on. There is a mysterious interaction that takes place between earth and heaven, between the divine and the human, between words spoken and actions lived out. Our prayers shape the universe and the universe shapes our prayers.

3.01.2010

Predestined 3: Characters, Plots, and Scripts on the Stage of Life

Like many raised in the church, I grew up thinking that I must discover God's will and plan for my life. God's sovereign will seemed to be very specific, involving very detailed plans of everyday life as well as the large decisions of life. This divine plan had to be sought out daily in prayer, reflected over while pouring over the Holy Scriptures, and always seemed like something that was just out of reach. Does God want me to go to this college or that one? Does God want me to go to college at all? Should I go up to the clerk at the gas station and "tell them about Jesus?" These were the kind of things that consumed me growing up and I find that many Christians are still consumed and anxious about such questions.

Along the way I have given up such a view of God and life. In the previous two posts, I have sought to explain a very different understanding of God's Sovereignty and the idea of predestination. Whereas in the past many have considered finding God's will as a scripted life, I have characterized it as the unscripted life. Rather than some script that one must discover each new page, or some sort of cultural script that defines certain accomplishments, possessions, and circumstances as happiness or success, the Jesus follower must live an unscripted life. In the second post, I described the kind of things that our human will and volition should be pointed towards-- that of stewarding ourselves and the process of continually putting off that which burdens and keeps us from living a full life and opening ourselves to the new things that we encounter while following behind Jesus.

I am continually persuaded that God's will is about character rather than circumstances. Such character involves a death to the old ways of life and putting on the life-giving traits of the Spirit. In my last post, Jason Thomley commented on how this process is described in Jeremiah 1 where God gives Jeremiah the two-pronged vocation of tearing down and planting. In Colossians 3, Paul describes this two phased process (that one could probably break-down into much more detailed steps). First, Paul starts out with the primary goal: Set your mind on things that are above (v. 2)! This is like the two greatest commandments of 1) Love God & 2) Love Neighbor that some of you lifted up in your comments on the last post. But like most of us, we look at Paul and say, "Yes, that's right, seek the things that are above... okay, but how do I do that and what does that look like." The same sort of thing happens when Jesus gives the two greatest commands in Luke 10. A religious scholar sly asks, "You have answered correctly, but who is my neighbor?" Just as Jesus provides the story commonly known as the Good Samaritan, Paul lays out some key ideas of what it means to set one's mind on thing above. In verse 5, he says that we must put to death fornication, impurity, passion, and evil desire, as well as, get rid of anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. Then in verse 10, he says that we must clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience while bearing with one another and forgiving one another and having love and thankfulness and peace, and letting the Word of God dwell in you while you sing to God. In verse 18, Paul he gives some practical steps for households. I'm sure if he wasn't working with parchment or papyrus scrolls he might have written more and got more detailed.

What is God's will? I might not be able to give a full answer, but I do know that it starts with character-- with putting to death many things in our lives and clothing ourselves with traits that open up our spirits to Spirit of life.

2.10.2010

Faithful Stewards & the Unscripted Life

When we give up the illusion that we can control our lives and destinies, when we forsake the idols of self-worship and being self-made gods, when we depart from the way of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, we have the chance to live by trust on the road of the unscripted life. This is the journey of following Jesus who is out in front of us forging the way to a place we cannot even imagine.

In my last post, several of you asked plenty of questions and made several statements about choices, plans, being responsible, and free-will. In my language, these all revolve around the idea of faithful stewardship. Instead of attempting a "how to get there" kind of life where we use, abuse, manipulate and scheme, the Jesus journey is one where we consider who we are, what we are carrying, and how we journey. First, it it is to be a light journey where we let go of a lot of baggage and burdens. This is a continual process as we are distracted, tempted, and even good-intentioned along the way to pick up plenty of stuff that we eventually find that we must set down. Second, it is journey where certain resources are vital and necessary. How will we use those resources and plan for their best use along the way? Third, along the way we find ourselves encountering all sorts of opportunities... circumstances to use gifts and talents, to love and be loved, to give and to receive. We look and find ourselves in possession of so many different gifts. We encounter persons and circumstances along the way where these gifts can be used. Plans, choices, and free-will were meant to be used in faithful stewardship along this journey.