Archive for October, 2012

we cannot do both.  if we try to do both it drives us nuts & it’ll end badly.


“now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…”

if we really believe this to be true of us as individuals & as a church [that’s all of us belonging to different churches under the banner of Christ] do we act like this?

we want to, desperately, answer this question with an absolute “YES!!”  and i think we answer the question believing in our hearts that the answer is truly “yes.”  this verse has the invitation to thrive in this life & not just focus on the life to come.  the truth of how we answer can show up in our practices & ways of operation.

something that i’m observing lately is the impossibility of thriving & surviving both at the same time.

here’s what i mean…

if we’re going to to all, exceedingly more through Christs we have to be willing to let go of our “we’re just barely making it” mentality.  for some of us this mentality is where we’ve lived for so long we don’t know any other way to be.

“we’re broke, don’t spend anything”

“we’ve never done it that way before”

“what if this doesn’t work”

“what if they don’t show up”

and there’s something significant that happens…

calcification of new ideas [creative arthritis]

when this happens other dominoes start to fall.  and as a result we are no longer seeking to thrive & grow & become this thing that God is trying to reveal in us.  at some point we decided the best thing to do was to cut our losses & just try to ride out the storm.

maybe this will be a helpful picture…

i’m not a horse rider, & have been on a horse a few time in my life.  but what i have noticed is the relationship to holding the reins & the horse moving.  i may need to check my facts on this, but i don’t think you can spur the horse on to move/run/jump/navigate the trail & at the same time hold the reins back.

while it’s true that there are times for survival & a tightening the reins. a ‘we’ve just got to get through this.” mentality.  but at some point the rebuilding needs to begin.  a re-structuring takes place.  recovery must happen.  we cannot afford to loose sight of what it was like to thrive & be & do something significant.  and if we’ve forgotten about those days, it’s time to connect with someone who does.  and if no one is around who remembers it’s time to re-cast a vision for tomorrow.

important point: remembering the significant things of the past do not entail a return to those things.  it’s just important to remember when survival wasn’t the only thing that mattered.

here’s another thought that’s just occurring to me.  history will record what happened; it always has & always will.  so you and i & our time here will be recorded.  i don’t want the things that i did & participated in to be thought of as missed opportunity & potential wasted; a missing of God’s call.

recently i heard someone talking about their involvement in a small group.  this group is a kind of disconnected gathering of Christians, some of whom don’t have a church home.  so this small group is, for some, the only connection to church-life they have.  and for the record, scripture is pretty clear on our need to be with one another & lean on one another.

within the group there are some that have decided that the group isn’t exactly what they’re looking for, it’s not quite the right atmosphere.

now to be fair, i didn’t talk with this couple & there could be a pile of reasons they’re disconnecting from the group; so i’m certainly not going to speculate on any of that.  but it did cause some other thoughts to rise up in me.

this approach to our relationship with others [disconnecting] can be fatal to our health in Christ for a number of reasons…

supermarket Christianity

we have become so comfortable in our lives with that ability to shop around & find the best deal on a car, tv, etc. that we end up doing this very thing in our church lives as well.  “this isn’t quite meeting my needs so we’re going to hit the road.  let’s be clear: this is different than having a philosophical difference in ministry or theology that cannot allow us to stay.  this is more about our fickle attitudes toward life in general.


i think there’s this thing that runs inside us from time to time & that is that ‘we know better. ‘   ‘don’t try & tell me how me how to do it or how it should happen, i’ve got this.’  we have a very great belief in ourselves, even when it comes to our walk with Christ.  i think that sometimes we’re not really even sure we can trust what the bible says, & we’re definitely not sure we can trust those around us.  so we disengage believing that we’re right.  this ends up being a sad choice because weather we’re right or wrong in our choices we’re alone.

lack of accountability

this is perhaps the most damaging one.  when we don’t have anyone to hold us accountable we end up running off the rails.  within the community of Christ there should be this strong sense of shared trust.  the kind of trust that gives us freedom to share life with one another.

so just to make sure i’m not talking out of my ear & here’s some biblical substance:

ephesians 5:21   “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

romans 12:10  “be devoted to one another in love. honor one another above yourselves.”

these verses intimate  a close connectedness to one another through Christ.  and that really is the key.  if we’re just gathering because we like each other or have certain things in common, or we’re searching out that place of perfect relationship & content/teaching we may never get to the place of truly finding the community we’re looking for.  and that really is the truth, we’re on the hunt for community; searching it out, desiring to belong.

a quote i recently heard on espn radio was this; “if you’re waiting around for perfection you’ll be waiting forever.”

so may our fickle attitudes, our hubris, our searching for perfection not become a stumbling block to what God is trying to do in us through community.

 find a place, join up, share deeply & live life with others.

the fallow ground

so last week i just finished teaching on some of the dominant metaphors in the bible.  we talked about 4 pictures; sheep, the harvest, milk & honey & the last piece was the vineyard.

within that final chapter of the series there was something powerful that occurred to me, something that i haven’t been able to get away from this week; and that was the part about fallow ground.  that is, ground that hasn’t been planted for a season, giving it time to rest.

when the ground has been able to rest it experiences a sort of rejuvenation, nutrients are able to recover & the health of the next planting is that much greater.

wow, does that speak to me!

this fall has been a series of races from one thing/place/event to another.  with kids involved in sports & extra-curricula’rs it can be hard to make space to rest & be still; and yet that’s exactly what is needed.

when i find myself with little-to-no down time everything suffers.  sure, i may be able to accomplish a lot & be in many places, but the quality of those “things done” suffers.  so it becomes important to say “no” to the right things.  this quickly becomes an issue of self-discipline & an awareness of life to gauge the things that are most important.

it’s also about realizing that life is lived in seasons…

i know right now, as i have one in high school & one nearing jr.high, that my time needs to be spent investing in their lives.  meaning they get the best of my attention & time.  that means some days are long & many miles are logged.  and if you’ve already been through this stage of life you’ve experiences the phrase “you can rest when you’re dead!”   it truly feels that way some days.

what i think i’m realizing is that within this “seasonal living” approach is that there are some things in my life

[things i would choose to do with my saturday]

& in ministry life

[things i want to see happen within the church that i need to lead]

may have to wait…wait for a change of season.

if i’ve learned anything in my years of parenting it’s that the kids don’t say little for long.   their seasons keep changing too.

so in  the midst of my ever changing seasons as a father & pastor & the busyness of a packed schedule it’s easy to forget about times to rest & be still.  even it that just means insisting on closing the curtains & shutting off the phone for a few hours, being still & let God speak to us in the absence of sound & busyness.