Month: August 2018

Major and Minor – There is a Difference

I am not talking about baseball. I am talking about life. I am talking about what matters and what doesn’t matter. Or what matters a great deal and what doesn’t matter as much.

Not all things in life are equal. Some things in life are supremely important, most things are not.

You’ve heard before, “Don’t major on the minors.” Good advice.

You’ve heard before, “What matters most, must matter more.” Good advice.

You’ve heard before, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” Good advice.

You’ve heard before, “First things first,” which implies second things second and tenth things tenth. Good advice.

Not everything can matter equally. You don’t have enough time or energy for everything to matter equally. That’s okay. For the things that matter most, do those with excellence and great love. For things that don’t matter as much, well, they don’t matter as much, so don’t invest as much in them.

We each have to choose to be really good at what matters.
We then have to be okay with being just average at most things,
and actually, below average in many things.

When it comes to the use of any tool, I am, sadly, below average. Well …

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Learning to Speak the Foreign Language of Generation Z

Could you use a little help in language learning, especially in actually understanding teens?

James Emery White had a delightful post on his blog site Church and Culture.

Understanding the Gen Z Language.

Enjoy, and good luck with language learning.

Pastor Brian

P.S.  Of course as soon as your teen realizes you actually understand them, they will develop another language. That’s why lifelong learning is essential!

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One Word Can Set Great Things in Motion

Especially when that Word is God’s Word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:21)

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I have had this experience so many times: A verse, a passage, or a phrase of Scripture hits me with great power. They address something that needs attention in my life. They speak to me. They illumine what is in the shadows. They reveal a way to walk. They name what needs to be corrected. They provide what is missing for me to flourish as a follower of Christ.

God’s Words are powerful, alive, transformative – and they can literally save us.

Here are six practices for you to connect with God’s Words and experience the holy activity they set in motion.

ONE: Engage with those words. Read the Bible often. You don’t have to read large parts of it at any time. In most cases, a chapter is plenty of Bible. Sometimes a few verses are more than enough Bible. In our …

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Becoming Human

A Short Theological-Spiritual Reflection

When I was a sophomore in college, a little book was revolutionary for me. The book was Fully Human, Fully Alive by John Powell. Later, I discovered that phrase had its origins in one of the ancient church theologians (Irenaeus) who said, “For the glory of God is the one fully alive, and the life of man (and woman) is the vision of God.”

We, once, were fully human and fully alive.

Then sin struck and we have become less than we were meant to be.

We, once, were fully alive in the image of God.

Then sin wreaked ruin on that image. The image remains, but it remains scarred, defaced, smeared, disfigured.

We once thought well, felt well, desired well, chose well, related well, loved well, worked well, spoke well, and did all things well and right and beautiful, and God said, “It is good, very good.”

Then sin entered and we no longer did anything well. We did much of it poorly. We did some of it terribly. We did some of it with pain (it is called dysfunction or function with pain). And, at times, it seemed we simply did nothing (non-functional?).

But …

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The Leadership Crisis

The other week, Brian Newman and I had a wide ranging conversation on leadership. One of our conversation points was on the crisis of leadership. In this short video, Brian and I talk about the four elements that, together, make up the current Leadership Crisis.

We’ll be publishing more conversations on leadership in the coming days and weeks. Subscribe to our blog to get these resources delivered right to your inbox.


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On Being Christian and Jewish || guest blog by Brian Newman

Pastor Brian Newman has written a thoughtful and personal note about being Christian and Jewish.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Thank you for taking the time (and possibly courage) to ask about how I speak regarding being a Christian and Jewish. Words and language matter, and I do not want to leave people confused.

This answer might be longer than you anticipate, but I hope it is helpful.

I grew up in a secular Jewish family on Long Island. We were observant Jews, but functionally we barely believed in God and had no real faith. We religiously went to synagogue on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, and celebrated Hannukah and Passover and many of the other holidays. We were steeped in all things Jewish – on a cultural and quasi-religious level. It might compare to liberal Protestantism or some forms of Catholicism on a religious level.

I came to faith in Christ when I was 20 years old in a very NON-Jewish context. In fact, I really did not consider what it meant that I came from a Jewish background and now believed in Jesus; that is, that I am a Christian. I believe this …

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Mother Teresa – Anyway Poem

Mother Teresa is one of my favorite leaders. She was a remarkable woman in many ways. Her way of quiet, strong, persevering leadership for the sake of the least resourced people in India (and around the world) reminds me of Jesus’ manifesto in Luke 4:18-19.

Here is a prayer of Mother Teresa. I think it is a prayer that all leaders must learn how to pray.

What do you think of her prayer?

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;

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Defining Leadership

Leadership is like an elephant. It’s big. You can look at it from many vantage points. As you look at it, you see many different aspects of leadership. This is why there are so many definitions of leadership. While the essence of all leadership is the use of power and authority, there are additional ways to understand leadership.

Here are several of the definitions and descriptions that help me understand leadership.

ONE: You’ve already heard the definition by Max DePree, CEO of the Herman Miller Furniture Company and author of several great books: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the leader is a servant.”

TWO: Here is a another favorite by president Woodrow Wilson: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

THREE: Leadership guru Warren Bennis says: “To an extent, leadership is like beauty: It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see

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A Sad, Sad Day for Christian Leaders Everywhere

How the Mighty Fall.

That is the name of a book by Jim Collins on what pride does to leaders and their organizations. It is a tagline for what is going on with Willow Creek and Bill Hybels, the founding and former senior pastor.

This is a longer post. It is not one I wanted to write. But it is on a subject that many people are and will be talking about. Because it is exactly the theme of next Sunday’s message on bad leadership (Not the Way It’s Supposed To Be), I decided to share my thoughts about the latest on Willow Creek and Bill Hybels. Also, if you are reading this in your email browser, the links at the end of the article may not be live for you. If you want to check them out, they are live on the church blogsite.

Monday was a sad day for me. It began Sunday evening when Becky told me there were more news reports coming forth about Willow Creek and its former founding pastor, Bill Hybels. I spent an hour or so reading new and old reports.

In the summer, Hybels was accused by a number of different women …

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Like Everything Else, Power is Changing

Moises Naim, former editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy, scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the executive director of the World Bank, tells us how power is changing.

A number of people asked me about the ideas from The End of Power by Moises Naim. At the first and third services, I read a few short excerpts from his book. I forgot (!!!!) to do this at the second service.

Naim has a simple but elaborate theme. He believes the very nature of power has changed in recent decades. There is a seismic shift in how power is used and in who has power. Through the Internet, our ability to access vast resources, stay in viral connection with many others, and be agents of influence are unlike any other time in history.

Here are the excerpts I read:

This is a book about power. Specifically, it is about how power – the capacity to get others to do, or to stop doing, something – is undergoing a historic and world-changing transformation.

Power is shifting from brawn to brains, from north to south and west to east, from old corporate behemoths to agile start-ups, from entrenched dictators to people

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