Is there Room in Your Chariot?

This past summer at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit I had the opportunity to live blog for Engage Churches, a part of the Willow Creek Association.  I was blown away listening to the teaching of Chris Brown, a pastor at North Coast Church in California.  Here’s some of what I wrote that day…

This afternoon, Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown, a different Chris Brown) started with the story of a man approaching a campfire.  Creeping forward, and then walking back into the shadows while others by the campfire gossip about his failed leadership around the issue of a certain giant named Goliath.

The man is King Saul.  For over a month Saul has been called out and he knows he doesn’t have what it takes.  His ministry is  paralyzed.  His leadership is paralyzed.  He’s a leader in trouble who is bailed out by a kid named David.

And then it goes out on Twitter (as it were).  1 Sam. 18:5-9 “Saul has killed his thousands.  David his ten thousands.”

Huh??  Big gasp.  How is Saul going to react?

“From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

Saul didn’t have room in his chariot for David, the young twerp who bested him.

Leaders struggle with jealousy and comparison.  Pride and ego.  It’s in the Bible.  A lot. Continue reading

Life-giving Links and Likes

We had another 8″ of snow dumped on us last night and it’s tempting to think that spring and little green shoots will forever be smooshed down and hidden under heaps of this white stuff.

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Even before the most recent snow, this guy was looking longingly for any sign of life!

Maybe we’ll never ever see the lavender of lilac bushes or the pink of tulips again!  Maybe we’ll never smell the enticing aroma of burgers on the grill, or feel the warm pavement under bare feet!  ARRGH!  Stop the madness!!  Before we despair, a couple of life-giving links on this One Word Friday. Continue reading

Help for One Word

Yesterday I posted on One Word for 2014.  I love seeing the words you’re choosing in the comments section – check them out and add yours!

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I asked my mom what hers is and she said it’s a secret. :) Guys, it’s not like this is a nuclear launch code.  And you will not be struck by lightning if you change your word in February.  Ask my brother, David.

If there was going to be One Word for this blog I pray it would be Grace, grace, and more grace!  Part of my goal is that we would take God seriously, but ourselves not so much, so jump in.  It’s safe, I promise.

If you’re considering choosing One Word for 2014 and are having some trouble, here’s some help from the author of the book, One Word, who was on the Today show.  As you reflect, he suggests, look in, look up, and look out.  View the 3 minute clip here.

Lost In Soweto and Bethlehem

“Let us drown out the howling nonsense of Gomorrah with the melodies of the New Jerusalem.” - Spurgeon

In 1996, shortly after the Rwandan genocide, just when AIDS was gaining attention, not many years after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, we got lost in Soweto.

There were six of us, white americans crammed in a car, driving around in circles until we stumbled upon the place where Nelson Mandela came and spoke after his release from prison. As I remember, it it was large and cavernous.  We walked inside, the only ones there.

In the silence, our friend started singing in a crystal clear voice, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

The notes softly bounced off the ceiling, the floor, the walls.  It was a holy moment.  We let it wash over us.  It was a melody of the New Jerusalem.

Many years later I walked into the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, crowded with tourists, wanting a piece of Jesus, but not necessarily wanting the sacrifice necessary for Peace. Continue reading

One Thing it Takes to Overcome Fear

I watched this video a week or so ago and thought, “What if…?”

What if Christopher Maloney didn’t have his mom cheering for him?

What if he hadn’t had one person who believed in him?

What if he had let the voices of his detractors drown out the one voice that said, “You are talented.  You’ve got this.”?

We all need a champion, a cheerleader, an encourager in our corner.  Not someone to give us false hope or shield us from the truth, but someone who sees the gifts we have to offer the world and wants the world to have the joy of receiving them.

Who believes in you?  Make sure to thank them.  Who are you championing?  Make sure they know it.

Voices

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and if you are reading this, chances are you’ve resisted the urge to rise before dawn and scrape and claw through Walmart for the “best deals of the season”. (#walmartfights is trending on Twitter.)

You’ve said “no” to Black Friday, or perhaps you’re still just in a turkey coma and are calling it “contemplation”.  You’re reflecting on yesterday, or you still may be with family navigating dysfunctional dynamics feeling as tense as Jack Bauer defusing a bomb with 3 seconds left.

You may be with family members whose voices can strengthen you, reminding you of your inestimable value (like my mom, and basically everyone I’m related to does), or stab you in the back like the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones.

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Last week I wrote about the power of words and the Word as we move into the holidays when there’s more emotion, more stress, more people, more…family.  So today, on Fearless Friday I thought I’d just post this video that’s a reminder of Whose voice is the most important to hear from.

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The Words that Matter

Our friend Sharon always reminds us “Words matter!”

The truthful, timely word, the encouraging word, the destructive one.  They are all composing the story of our life.

Like a mess of Christmas lights though, we often get tangled up in the fearful words.  The “not enough”, “failing grade”, “grim prognosis”, “overwhelming odds” words. Continue reading

Two Memoirs

We got home from two weeks in Africa yesterday afternoon and are trying to stay awake and get back into a work-day rhythm.  John and I keep looking at each other and saying “What time is it?  What day is it?”  The good news is that with about 159 hours of flight time, there was lots of opportunity to get books read (even for a slug-slow reader like me).

Among the titles I tackled were two fantastic memoirs I’d highly recommend!  When we Were on Fire by Addie Zierman, and Table in the Darkness by Lee Wolfe Blum. Continue reading

Carry-Ons and What You’re Reading

It’s Fearless Friday, but I don’t feel like writing about fear. :)   

John and I are leaving today for a couple of weeks in Zambia and Tanzania with our church and World Vision.  Not to be braggy, but we kind of pride ourselves on our ability to travel light.  We rarely check bags, but always use carry-ons.

The one place this proves problematic for me is with books.  Now when the Kindle came out I was thrilled because I knew it would be a great resource, at least when we travel. Think of all the space we could save!  157 books in the size of less-than-one!  Never mind the fact that it takes me 39 days to read just one.  I’m an optimist.

John has adapted well to the Kindle and uses it all the time, but me?  Well, I’m too tactile, too visual, and maybe just too remedial.  I need to be able to flip back and forth, to review what I’ve read and quotes I’ve underlined.  I also have this weird thing about wanting my full sized Bible with me that has all my notes and dates and underlines.  I just seem to “know” it better than other Bibles.  We’re old friends.

Bottom line?  I just hate using the Kindle and only submit when absolutely necessary.

Which brings us to this trip.  I have so many books right now that I’m excited about reading!!  Here are a few that I’ve finished and some I’m looking forward to. Continue reading