Tag Archive: challenge the system


in a new learning opportunity through udemy i’m taking a course with seth godin as the facilitator.  if you’re not familiar with him you should be…if you’re interested in learning & thinking about things in new ways.

part of this course if an interaction with others through the on-line community, both that we’re already connected to & a new community of those that are also taking the course.

the first session is distinguishing the difference between leadership & management.

the prime difference here is that management maintains the direction that a group or organization is already heading.  so managers are important, very important.  leaders are different though.  they are the ones that have an idea or a new approach to something.  they may not know how to get there but know that it needs to be pursued.  godin says that it’s even possible; likely even, that they don’t quite know how to get there, to that thing that needs to be done.

so one of the questions posed to us doing the course work: is leadership a choice?

i do believe leadership is a choice.  any of us can choose to follow the lead of another, and we often do just that; again, nothing wrong with that.  i sure don’t want to  have to discover everything on my own, i want someone to show me which car to buy & where the best new place to eat is located & what to order when i get there.

but there are places that i desire, very much, to seek out the thing that hasn’t been done yet, the new thing, the refurbishing what was once discarded, understanding a new direction.  i could look at those things, which are difficult & filled with potential problems & chose not to engage.  but i make a conscious choice to jump in & pursue what others may set aside.

another part of this is that leadership is something that’s done in concert; there are those that come along with you; and without them the new thing, the unattainable, the impossible remains just that.

i love the communal aspect of this, that together we do something that cannot be done alone.  if you work alone, godin says, you’re an artist.  but it you engage in something that requires the addition of others then you’re a leader.

oh may i be a leader…

Advertisements

this issue has been brewing in me for a while now…bill-of-rights there are a host of difficult issues at play with the activation of the religious freedom act.

 FEAR

both sides of this issue have fear as a motivating factor.  for those that believe on one should be with-held services because of their sexual orientation through the lens of religious belief the fear could be placed at the feet of the question; “what’s next?  who are they going to bar next?  don’t i have the right to eat & sleep where i want?  isn’t this a free country where no one shall be unfairly judged or mistreated because of their nationality, creed, etc.?” the fear coming from the other side of the issue may sound like this; “if we, who morally object to this lifestyle, are forced to set aside our beliefs what’s next?  what will they take away next, our right to freely gather, our right to worship our God without mistreatment & persecution?” for the follower of Jesus the conversation, for me, begins in the wrong place. Jesus tells His disciples [and us] to not be afraid.  to let go of our fear, to trust in Him.  i kind of wonder, as one who is a follower of Christ, that our fear [Christ-followers] is a simple lack of faith that God has all things under His control.

 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

-mk.4:40

 something’s that at stake here for us all, is the answer to this question:  will you & i live in fear with what might happen if…? if we get under the surface at all that’s much of this is all about.

“are we headed back to segregation?”

“what will the government make us do next?”

“is this the end of religious freedom?”

“is this the end of my personal freedom?”

WORRY

are you, am i [as a follower of Christ], willing to trust in God that He has it under control? Jesus was very explicit that if we followed Him it would get tough [putting it lightly – He actually said we could die].  but that struggle, difficulty, persecution doesn’t mean that God had let go of the wheel & mayhem is on the loose.  it simply means that the struggle continues & government, no matter it’s form or goals, does not have the last word. “but what about the WORD of God standing tall?  don’t you want that?”   of course i  do.  but judgment is best reserved for God and God alone. accountability for actions is served best in the context of relationship.  picket lines & petitions don’t allow for any relationship & draw lines of one side against another; and i’m just not that interested in doing that.  i’m more interested in the love i show & how it reveals the work of Christ in me, broken & hypocritical as i can be.

 LOVE

as followers of Christ we are continually walking a thin line between demonstrating the love of Christ & doing whatever we want.  i saw a facebook post earlier this week from a friend when he simply reminded us that Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, tax collectors & those who partied too much.  and in the eyes of the religious elite, ruined His character. Jesus’ time here on earth was spent with those that the “church folk” didn’t want to have anything to do with.  and all Jesus does is spend time with them, offering them a chance to have a relationship with God. a God they may not have known. 1283-Indiana-Religious-Freedom-Restoration-Act-Frequently-asked-questions a God they may have felt abandoned by. a God they were not invited to know. we all have a tendency to get our rights all mixed up in all kinds of things.  as a follower of Jesus my rights take a back seat to the real call on my life; to love well.  Jesus tells us that how we love communicates whom we follow, so He says love others in the same way He has loved us.

 there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. the one who fears is not made perfect in love.      

1jn.4:18

 so our worry & fear stand in the direct path of God’s working in the midst of the muddy, murky water of life.

 FINALLY

the whole truth of how this all plays out is yet to be determined, but i have said this for a long time.  i believe that it’ll be settled by the wallet & not much else. we like money more than we like almost anything.  and this decision will have a financial impact on indiana more than the religious or LGBT community. when our wallets are affected we become different people, almost entirely regardless of our beliefs & convictions.  we have placed a great deal of importance on money & the false security it provides…

…but that’s probably a topic for another time.

so in the mean time love well, in the manner that Jesus loved. lay your worry to rest; and don’t let you fear be your spokesperson.  that guy gets enough air time.

relational currencylately there have been several things that have been swirling around in my head & conversations i’ve had…

being a sports fan & originally being from indiana i’ve been watching the nba playoffs & in particular the pacers.  my, how they’ve fallen.  back in february they made a trade of players in an attempt to shore up their line-up & make a run at a championship.  in short, it’s not working & they’re in jeopardy of getting bounced from the playoffs.

in other conversations with teachers & parents the gist of the discussion has been surrounding the struggle of budgets & programming offered at public schools along the lines of, “we can’t afford to do what we once did.  oh, and we can’t pay for the labor force to teach what we once did.”  this issue has far reaching implications beyond what i can discuss here & beyond what we even currently know.

a lot of times when we’re confronted with a problem or a difficult situation we’re tempted to “out-think the room.”  believing that the solution to this problem must be complicated; at least as complicated as the problem itself.  i believe that at the root of the issues we face begins with something relatively simple, and it almost always begins with the same thing.  true, when things bloom & become this complex hairball of difficulty the problems then are complex; & fixing them takes time.  but i’m going to assert that the root issue is just one thing…relationship with people.  here, we’ll call it relational currency.

with the pacers the problems with how they’ve slide seem to be many & getting out of the hole they’ve dug is going to take time.  but i believe that it all began with a particular player being traded away; danny granger.  he seemed to be the glue of the locker room that’s now gone.  he was the guy that could remind everyone what they were supposed to be doing.  true, he didn’t get a lot of playing time, but he was greatly respected by the players & he was a voice of maturity for that team.

this basic premise of relational currency plays out with schools as well.  there has been a recent move in michigan with an animosity toward teachers in the name of dollars & cents.  so many things are veiled in “we can’t afford to…”  and those that primarily suffer are the students & their teachers.  i’ve been saying for a couple of years now that there will be a day, probably when my kids have kids, that we’ll all look back at this time in history and wonder aloud, “what were we thinking, treating kids & schools & teachers that way?!”

when people aren’t valued & relationships aren’t seen as the primary asset of an organization weather that be a school, a team, a church or any number of other places to be a part of, to work & make a living; when people aren’t valued, the system is about to crumble.

relational currency also shows up in the life of Jesus.  when Jesus gives “the sermon on the mount” [mt.5, 6 & 7] He’s talking about how there are 2 kingdoms that overlap right now.

one kingdom tells us that we’d better look out for us.  that if we don’t meet our needs, then no one is going to meet our needs.  that life is about you & you need to grab all you can before it’s all over.

the other kingdom tells us that people matter; people other than us matter.  that God has something in mind for us, and that we find that “something” when we give our lives to others.

so ask yourself some questions today:

am i living in such a way that truly values other people?  not valuing them in terms of what they can do for me.  not in terms of how they benefit my life & make me great.  but do i value them as sons & daughters of God?

am i pouring my life into the lives of those around me?  or am i content to take care of me & my needs while ignoring those around me?

good, short conversation from jon acuff & his wife.

Quit trying to turn lead into gold. – Jon Acuff.

so this past sunday, as the Advent Conspiracy continues, we worked around what it means to “give more”; that is, giving presence, your time, your humanity.  and no, we didn’t talk about a piece of the traditional “Christmas story”; instead we focused on an experience & a story from Jesus while at a banquet [luke14].

Jesus correctly reveals that party He’s attending is really a “privileged” party.  it’s for those that can afford to be there, that truly appreciate the finest of things & can invite you to their own “high society” party.  Jesus says this is no way to do things.  then Jesus tells a story of a man hosting a banquet & those that had received invitations simply were too busy to attend.  then those that were not on “the” list were invited & the party raged on.

what’s interesting & note-worthy here is the relational quality of the entire interaction.  He points out the depth of their relationships with one another & says it’s only about how you look to your friends & that’s no way to live.  part of the purpose of your life here on earth is the relationship you have with others & the way you point them toward Jesus.  so He’s inviting them to invest in the lives of others, not just in their own life.

AC_Give_ICON

that’s a hard thing to do during this season especially.  sure we have little trouble giving our spare change to the the bell ringers, and making sure that families that have enough for the season.  but what are we really doing?  are we truly investing in their lives?  or are these things a way to ease our minds with “well, at least i’m doing something.”

i do believe part of the challenge of this time of year is not to just “do a little more”.  i really think the challenge is to become the kind of people that God had created & called us to be.  to step into a place that we can truly give more.  to find new & better ways to give ourselves away.  and not just to our families.  there is a bit of an expectation to giving to our families.  but to give to those that aren’t expecting it.  to give to the ones that are easily overlooked.  give to those that don’t seem to “deserve it” – whatever that means.

so how ’bout it?  can we give more of ourselves away this year?  can we find ways to exemplify the life of Christ but giving more?

AC_Give_WORDmaybe, we’ll see when the bills show up in january.

as we launch into the Christmas season it’s so easy to misplace the object of [what should be] our greatest affection.

AC_Worship_ICONas a Christ-follower it IS something that we say without hesitation, “Jesus is the reason for the season!”  & “You can’t spell Christmas without Christ.”  and all of the rest of our somewhat mis-guided attempts to repaint the Christmas story.

is there a way to repaint the colors of Christmas in ways that will stick & not simply annoy people?

this year as a church we are engaging in the Advent Conspiracy more intentionally.  if you click the picture to the left you’ll be taken to the [AC] web-site & can learn of it’s genesis & it’s intention to return to Jesus as the primary focal point of the season.

this first week has had us focus on that object of our greatest affection – Jesus – and in turn find ourselves launched into full worship.

this past sun. we talked about 3 signs of the coming Messiah:

1 – the angel announcing the “better-good news” over the popular roman message of the “kind-of-good news”.  this announcement is for us as well as the 1st century folk.  the temptation is to believe what we already know & not trust the promise of something new.

2 – the star guiding the wise men to Jesus.  critical point here, God desires to guide us all.  not just when we get our lives figured out & cleaned up.  those wise men weren’t jewish, they didn’t know the God of israel, and yet God is trying to bring them close to Him.

3 – the manger, a highly unlikely place for a baby to be placed; and a king at that.  here we find God meeting us in a place of great venerability.  reminding us that He is with us.

so what should all this do for us?  is it all just a reminder of a story that we’re maybe “too” familiar with?  or is there more?AC_Worship_WORD

these things, and more, should remind us of the great, awesome & powerful nature of God & His desire for us.  and these realizations, reminders & wakening moments should cause great worship to erupt.

so how ’bout it…will you worship fully this season & not let the object of our greatest affection sit in the background?

Snowflake Box detailrecently there’s been this thought that’s been swirling around in my head…it’s really been a continual stream of wondering:

how does the “sending nature” of the gospel show up in your life?

maybe we need to define some things first;

i think, without question, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has, at it’s root, a sending quality to it. consider the season we’re launching into right now.

Jesus comes to earth.  He leaves heaven to join us here.  He’s sent here to do what we cannot –

SAVE US.

so in simple terms; do we believe that we are engaging that “called out” &” sending” thing that happens in the bible repeatedly?

most of us, as Christ-followers would immediately say “well, yes. i do believe that we’ve called into that kind of life.”

but here are, i think, the most important questions:

do we live like that?
do we raise our families like that?
do we work at our jobs with this in mind?
do we attend churches that speak this kind of language?

if we look at these questions & there is a little bit of guilt or heaviness that shows up,

if we want to run from this page,

if God is waking some things up inside you,

may that same God, the one who sent His Son, the One we celebrate & try hard not to forget & bypass;

may that God speak into this season & your celebrations.  may He remind you of the call He has for your life & the places He is inviting you to go.

our own worst enemy

Restaurant Receipt

Justin Lee: When Christians Are Christianity’s Worst Enemy.

the link above is to an article that i’m seeing far too often!  is’s about Christians that, when eating out, instead of leaving a tip for their server they will write something regarding the server’s lifestyle [gay, lesbian] or about God getting 10%…therefore no tip is given to the server.

this is absolutely unacceptable!

we are to be Christ’s ambassadors & we end up defaming the name of the One we say we love, the One we sing about & the One we worship. we end up tearing down everything we believe in when we act in this way.  the article linked above says it really well, so i encourage you to read it.  and consider the message we send while this season of hope is upon us.

john15:12 “love each other as I have loved you.” – Jesus

wonderful article on the call to unity through students we may never meet.

“We Are All Rwandans” by Christopher Heuertz.

shame on you…

so the other day, actually every monday, i have breakfast with a local group of pastors @ the same restaurant & much to my sha-grin i have become, not only a regular there but i also have a regular order.  i say “sha-grin” because i never thought i’d be that guy.  i like to try different things on the menu; but clearly there is pattern that’s developed.

oatmeal with blueberries, raisin toast if i’m feeling crazy.  i know; it’s sad. oh_no_you_di_int_retro_housewife

this past monday when i ordered an omelet the table just about lost their collective mind & our waitress didn’t quite know what to do.  but i digress…

while we’re there, and this happens each week, we end up becoming quiet loud & boisterous; lots of laughing & just sharing life together.  one hilarious story leads  to another & it truly is the best meeting i have every week!  well, on monday last  we were our usual, loud-selves & we were chastised by another table through our waitress.  she comes over to us & jokingly says, “well, you guys are just too loud!”  and she jokes with us consistently & of course, we give it right back.  so this wasn’t an out-of-the ordinary comment.  but one of the guys asked if that came from another customer or if she’s just ribbing us.  she motioned over her shoulder to a table of 3 older women & said that they were complaining of our volume.  she then told them that we were pastors & that didn’t seem to impress these ladies whatsoever.  and to be fair, i don’t know that there’s much of us to be impressed with.  but setting that aside there is something going on in this little town, surrounded by a corn field, in the shadow of a prison.  God is doing something & it seems to be coming from the fact that we as pastors really, truly enjoy being together.

one of the guys pointed to the disconnect among churches in our county & said something like this;

maybe the disconnect among churches is because there’s a disconnect among their leaders.

i know that what i’m experiencing with these group of men & women, trying to lead the churches God has entrusted them to lead is a bit of a unique thing.  so i’m soaking it up as if it may vanish at any moment, praying that it never leaves.

back to our boisterous enjoyment of time spent together…

how often is your expression of time spent with the people of God loud & excited?  for some of us that shows up in our worship to God.  for some it’s highly limited to places of athletics.  for others it rarely shows up at all.  and truly, i’m ok with causing a stir in a local restaurant with conversation that centers around what God is doing & simply the joy of knowing that God is doing something in this little town, surrounded by corn, in the shadow of a prison.  and i’m probably going to get loud about that from time to time.

 i’m just glad that i have some men & women that are going to get loud about it too.