Month: May 2019

Making the Stretch

“Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Okay, I generally do not like either-or language. I am a lumper. I am a joiner. I am a both-and thinker. So here, Emerson has created a needless either-or, when he could have just made a great both-and.

“Not only in our goals, but in our transitions as well, are we great.”

So, with that reframing, what was Emerson getting at? I think it was this. It is one thing to have goals, it is quite another to actually reach them. It is one thing to have a powerful and inspiring vision of the future, it is quite another to go through the changes and transitions to actually achieve them.

Every vision and every goal requires a process of change.

Every step of the journey to the destination brings you to new places, new territories, new phases, and usually new problems and difficulties. It is moving through these transitions well that gets you to where you desire to go.

Look at this image. What do you feel when you see it? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like this? Are you in …

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This Just Makes No Sense (At All)…

Which means, this is Jesus-style Christianity and not a watered down, weak, cultural form.

I recently came across this prayer that was etched on a wall of one of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. It was found with the liberation of these death camps. We have no idea who wrote it.

O Lord, when I shall come with glory into your kingdom, do not remember only the men of good will; remember also the men of evil.

May they be remembered not only for their acts of cruelty in this camp, the evil they have done to us prisoners…

But balance against their cruelty the fruits we have reaped under the stress and in the pain; the comradeship, the courage, the greatness of heart, the humility, and patience which have been born in us and become part of our lives, because we have suffered at their hands.

May the memory of us not be a nightmare to them when they stand in judgment. May all that we have suffered be acceptable to you as a ransom for them.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies…

This prayer just MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL—unless you understand …

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Thoughts on Change

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend.

I’ve been on some vacation time over the last 2 weeks—mostly recharging, doing some hikes in Colorado (when I was out there doing a leadership retreat for an organization in Colorado Springs), riding bike, reading (always), working out, and eating (of course).

Some of my reading has been on leading change and dealing with the anxiety that change produces. Here are a few quotes I came across and put to images.

Leaders are those who are more comfortable with the change process. No leader is ever fully comfortable, for all change creates difficulty and some level of anxiety. What will the change process be like? How hard will it be? What is on the other side of change?

Whether it is personal change or organizational change, we must approach it with prayer, discernment, openness, and trust.

We can build walls to keep change out or we can build windmills to catch the winds of change that are blowing.

The quote from Toffler is from his book Future Shock, which was written in 1970. I first read that book in the early 80’s when it was already a decade old! Almost 50 …

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The Day After Memorial Day Musings

A day after Memorial Day (when we were all pretty busy with family events) let’s remember all those who have fought and made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of ideals worth defending, lives worth protecting, and loves worth safeguarding.

Here are a few thoughts on the evil that must be resisted in the world. Just wars, in part, are the most serious ways of resisting evil.

“He who does not punish evil commands it to be done” (Leonardo da Vinci).

“The evil in the world is proportionate to the weakness of the virtuous” (Winston Churchill).

One of the most powerful quotes is this one by English philosopher, historian, and writer, Edmund Burke:

In the United States, we have the powerful words of one of the greatest peacemakers of modern times:

And this longer one from MLK:

So, while we must never glorify war, we must know there is evil in the world that would tyrannize what is good. And that evil must be resisted. Sometimes heroically and, at times, sacrificially.

And may we as followers of Christ live with the sobering wisdom that the way of Jesus in overcoming all the evil of the world was the way of the …

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Transitions

Transitions. We are always in them.

Sometimes they are planned and we are proactive in the transition. Other times they are surprises and we are thrown off center and out of balance. We either react in anxiousness or we respond with intentionality (unfortunately, it is often the former reactiveness).

There are decades that bring with them certain transitions.

Every transition has opportunities as well as risks. Every transition involves loss as well as new beginnings. Every transition has its own challenges that require fresh thinking, new paradigms, and steps of faith.

One of the things I appreciate about my Christian faith is the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and social resources for going through all transitions. Living Word is here to help people go through all the seasons of life.

One of the things I love about the church is how it functions as a community of people in every season of life. The church is a multi-generational community.

One of the things I believe is vital for our church leadership is that it continue to be multi-generational. We need the insights, the perspectives, the lessons, and the experiences of all generations as we follow Jesus.

One of the great books on …

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The Secret of Life

I came across a pretty powerful thought. And as I thought about that thought, I decided to put it on an image. Then I had an interesting experience. Depending on the image, the thought took on different meaning. So here are three different images with the same quote. No matter which one grabs you, may you know and live into the Secret of Your Life.

Pastor Brian

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A Little Enthusiasm Goes a Long Way

Just imagine how far a LOT of enthusiasm can take you!

Do you remember the definition of en-THUSE? To enthuse is to put “thuse” in someone. Thuse comes from the Greek word theos, which is the word for God.

The original meaning of the word was to have some of God in you, which would lead to some evident signs that something “big is stirring around in you.”

Today, the word is more generally used to describe someone who is fired up with _________ (fill in the blank, but hopefully fill it with something good).

Here are two quotes worth pondering. The first, by the transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the second witty insight from legendary coach Vince Lombardi.

I think of Jesus, who for the JOY set before him, endured the cross, despised its shame, won salvation for lost humanity, and now sits enthroned in heaven. He was FIRED with enTHEOS, the Spirit of God, to do the work of God, for the glory of God.

Now that’s passion. That’s purpose. That’s enthusiasm.

So, what is firing you? What are you enthused with, about, and for?

May you be enTHEOSed today.

Pastor Brian

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How You Make a Life

There are many things to consider about the theme of Making a Life.

One part is that you don’t make your life at all, but you receive life. 
This is a Christian perspective that must be a foundation for all other perspectives. Our life is not our own. We did not give birth to ourselves. We did not grow by ourselves. We did not make it this far by ourselves. We are here because of others. Life itself is the most precious gift we have received—our first life and our born-again life. Both are SHEER GIFTS and are to be received.

Here is a second part that needs to be included in how we think about making a life.
It comes from Winston Churchill, who, as he frequently did, drives home the core idea.

Getting and giving.
Receiving and passing it on.
Being blessed to be a blessing.
Having and helping.

To whom much is given much is expected (Luke 12:48).

It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

In our culture, we are taught from early on to get, get, get. Acquire, acquire, acquire. Possess, Possess, Possess. Keep, keep, keep.

Jesus tells us that true life …

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Making the Most of Your Time

Be very careful then, how you live –
not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish
but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

These words of the Apostle Paul have motivated me through the long years. I am highly intentional about my time. The older I get, the more precious time is.

For a long time, I collected quotes and images about time. Here are a few for you to ponder.

Today you will have 24 hours, with about 16 of those hours awake. That means today you will have 960 minutes of time. You will have 96 blocks of 10 minutes.

You can do a lot in 10 minutes.

You can do a great deal with 96 blocks of 10 minutes.

Use some of those blocks of time to pray, to read Scripture, to be with a good friend, to read a good book, to exercise, to do the things that matter most.

Make the most of each block of time.

Pastor Brian

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Holy Spirit, I Pray…

Some years ago I wrote a short article where I talked about praying to the Holy Spirit. Since then, I have had many people say they never knew they could “pray TO the Holy Spirit.”

I am not surprised.

It was not my normal practice either. It seemed natural to pray to the Father. After all, the Lord’s prayer shows us that. “Our Father in heaven…” Jesus models prayer to the Father.

And it seemed natural to pray to Jesus as well… and to worship Jesus, petition Jesus, confess to Jesus.

But the Spirit… not as much.

That needs to change. As I have been preaching and teaching on the Holy Spirit, and as the devotionals are being prepared, one of the desires for this is that you learn to PRAY to the Spirit. Not just pray in the Spirit, or pray through the Spirit – but pray to the Spirit about the work the Spirit does in your life.

Pastor Gordon lent me a copy of a little prayer book by Jack Levison, Holy Spirit, I Pray. I liked it so much, I went out and got a copy.

If you want to become more comfortable in praying …

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