Month: October 2017

10 Best Ideas from Our 38th President

I am always paying attention to what I can learn from leaders. Not only do I study biblical leaders for explicit biblical wisdom (I have been studying Moses and King David in recent months), I also study political leaders, business leaders, and cultural leaders. In this case, a political leader. Gerald Ford was our 38th president. Here are 10 best ideas and practices he tried to live and lead by:

1.  Be optimistic.

2. Don’t dwell on past failures, but do learn from them.

3. Morals matter – develop good ones. Hone a fine sense of what is right and wrong. Then do what is right.

4. Set goals that are worthy of your life.

5. Strive for excellence.

6. Make sure that opponents do not become enemies (do what you can to be at peace with opposition).

7. Respect others – always. (One way you prevent opponents from becoming enemies.)

8. Be authentic and lead with authenticity.

9. Work hard to be informed on the issues, all sides of the issues.

10. And generally – work hard, persevere through challenges, do not give up.

Pastor Brian

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Take Any Risks Lately?

I am not a natural risk taker. I like to play it safe. I like to do my research. I like to get all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. I like to have a plan.

But sometimes God comes in and says, “Nah, you aren’t going to have any of that. Come and follow me.”

He told Abraham, “Go to a place I will show you.” There was no plan, just the risk of faith and following.

He told the disciples, “Leave your day jobs and come follow me.” They did.

He told the same group (and he tells us), “Take up your cross.”

Sometimes God says wait. Sometimes God says go. Sometimes God is a bit quiet and we are a tad uncertain.

The Christian life is always one of faith, hope, love, and trust.

There should always be some elements of every Christian’s life that are just unexplainable except that God is showing up and doing something bigger than you can do.

We do a lot of careful planning and heartfelt praying at Living Word. Much of the time we have a clear plan from God about what we are to do as we partner with …

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There Are No Shortcuts

Sometimes I wish there were, but there aren’t. At least not shortcuts to anything that matters.

The pathway to all good things, the road to success, the journey to excellence–all take time, hard work, challenges that push you, problems that stretch you, difficulties that shape your character, and trials that make the final result even more worthwhile.

There are very few good things and even fewer great things that just happen. You rarely stumble upon or wander into what is best for you.

You can’t get to where you want to go by dodging the very process that makes it possible.

So be patient, be wise, persevere, and live with faith, love, and hope. Christ will use these things to take you to the places that are good for you.

Remember: There are no shortcuts for you as an individual and for Living Word as a church. It’s just a journey with Jesus.

Pastor Brian


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4 Ways You Keep Fresh, Growing, and Learning

Here is my short list of MUST DO things to stay fresh in my thinking, growing in my abilities and capacity, and constantly learning.

ONE: Get New Ideas and Insights
You will really gather new ideas and insights as you read. What you read is up to you, but there are things you can best learn primarily through reading and reflecting. Read, reflect, think, consider, ponder, study, and come to your best conclusions and applications. For those who want to be great leaders, reading is vital. I read a book that was a collection of letters from leaders offering their best advice to emerging leaders. Over and over, these leaders from various arenas of life said: Learn by reading.

TWO: Meet New People
People are a source of stories, ideas, experiences, challenges, opportunities, partnerships, collaborations, and generally anything else you can think of. I love to meet new people. I love to ask questions. I love to listen. I am just curious and interested in people. Try to meet someone new every week. And try to learn something new from your existing network of people every week. Conversations are the “stuff” of life.

THREE: Travel
In other words, get to …

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Does God Applaud Anything? | Guest Post by Connie Milchling

Pastor Brian closed the service on Sunday, October 8 by asking, “Aren’t you glad the worship team showed up this morning?” This was answered by a large round of applause. Then he asked, “Aren’t you glad the folks in kid::life showed up this morning?” This was answered by another large round of applause. Finally he asked, “Aren’t you glad the people who make the coffee showed up early today?” Was it my imagination or did we get an even greater round of applause for that? After our joyous celebration I wondered: Does God applaud anything? Actually, he does.

“At that time each will receive their praise from God.”

Wait, at what time? Paul describes the nature of a true Christ follower in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 using words like servants of Christ, entrusted, and heart motives. He makes declarations of not caring if other people judge him, then admits he can’t even judge himself: “My conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent. Then he wraps up in recognition of the slow, long, difficult process of moving toward the hope of our future when, “At that time each will receive their praise from God.”   

God applauds faithfulness in the

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Enemies Into Friends

I am in a bit of a historical leadership mode as I read and reflect on great leaders from the past. Thoughts like these are resonating with me:

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?
Abraham Lincoln

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lincoln and King Jr. were both in tune with the Bible. They knew the Bible gets pretty radical on these matters.

Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country.
Deuteronomy 23:7

You know what the Egyptians did. They enslaved the Jews with a horrible captivity and brutal work. Now, the Jewish people are told by God, through Moses, to not despise their former despots. Let anger go. Let resentment go. Let bitterness go. Let vengeance go. Forgive and be at peace with those who once oppressed you.

That one is easy to understand. Here is what I bet most of you don’t know. The Edomites. Who are the Edomites? It is simple. They are the descendants of …

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With Malice Toward None

There are few statements that are as brilliant and beautiful as this one. Every word counts. Every word has meaning. Together they create something far greater than the sum of the parts.

It finally fell upon Abraham Lincoln to put an end to this evil, even though the cost was extraordinary.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds. Abraham Lincoln

In his second inaugural address, he uttered the words above.

Read each line several times and read the entire statement as a whole several times. Allow its vision, its courage, its humility, its determination, and its sense of holy responsibility sink into you.

There is more work to be done in binding up the wounds of our nation. These wounds are still raw. The racial divisions are still deep. The pain is still immediate for so many.

Christianity, when we are at our best (and we are not always at our best) understands that in Christ Jesus, all the dividing distinctions of humanity are overcome. Black and white, Jew and Gentile, female and male, young and old, Republican and Democrat, capitalist and socialist, and any other dividing distinction you can imagine, are all overcome in Christ.

We have more work to do to be the people of God. We

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My Responsibility for You and How I Should Have Said It

I have had so much positive feedback from so many of you on the theme of responsibility from this past Sunday’s message. I am glad this theme resonates for you.

I was deeply appreciative of one comment: “You talk about challenging and hard things in encouraging ways.”

I cannot tell you how much I want to be able to do that. There are many challenging and hard (but always good) things in our Christian faith. I want us to have crucial conversations about the things that matter most, like responsibility, but to do it in a way that does not get bogged down in guilt and shame. I want these conversations to take place in a way that encourages, motivates, and empowers us to become fully alive and flourishing in the grace of God.

However, I want to make an adjustment to something I said on Sunday. By itself, it could be misunderstood. And by itself, it is not sufficient to explain how I understand my own responsibility for you.

I have a pretty high sense of responsibility for people. I have always liked Paul’s words in Romans 1:14: “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks.” In other words, …

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Why I Am Considered Privileged | Guest Post by John Hilliard

I have made many friends throughout my life all throughout the world. Wherever I have gone I notice they don’t live the same life that I live. It’s awkward at times to be different, and as American’s we can be extremely different. We use the word ‘privileged’ when we compare ourselves to others who are in a place of poverty and need. It’s OK to be different but recognizing it is a wonderful first step to help you cultivate a heart of compassion and gratitude…

Being privileged in York, I think of a study done by the Search Institute that looked at The 40 Developmental Assets that are needed to be a successful adult.  They discovered that the more of these assets a child has, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors, and the greater chance they have to flourish as adults.

Here are just a few of those assets:

  • my school provides a caring, encouraging environment
  • I am given useful roles in my community
  • my best friends model responsible behavior
  • I am actively engaging in learning

Last year I worked with a student in an inner-city schools in York named William.  As …

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