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the blue book is now available on amazon

Exciting News!   The Blue Book is now available on Amazon!  And not only that, but it also has a bunch of new content!  I've been ...

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Preparing for Lent

 


Ash Wednesday is only a month away (Feb. 17).  If you are looking for a good guide and companion to lead you and your friends, or family, or staff, or small group, or church, through the seasons of Lent and Easter, Journey to the Cross could be for you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

leading by becoming smaller

Contrary to popular opinion, leadership is not about becoming great, but about enabling others to become great.  “The best leaders,” Parker Palmer tells us, “do not take up all the room.”  In this dog-eats-dog world that seems a little backwards.  It is counter-cultural, and certainly counter-intuitive.  But in the kingdom of God things are often turned upside down, just look at the Beatitudes.  Jesus came to show us a new way—the true way—and we would do well to pay attention.

Life is not about becoming bigger, but about becoming smaller, so that he may be big.  Jesus preached it, John the Baptist proclaimed it, and pilgrims and saints down through history have testified to it.  Thomas à Kempis wrote: “Enjoy being unknown and regarded as nothing.”  Trying to be known, and seen as somebody significant makes us the worst version of ourselves.  Angela of Foligno, in her last message to her disciples, said, “Make yourselves small!  Make yourselves very small!”  She knew all too well that trying to be big was the root of so many of our problems.  John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) And, in 1 Peter 5:5-6, Simon Peter, the leader of the early church, said, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.”  In fact, Jesus himself said, “Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:5)

Simply put, the path to life, and to leadership, does not lead upward, but downward.  It involves humility (lowliness of heart) and meekness and self-denial.  It demands that we empty ourselves of self and stay low to the ground.  The very best leaders are those who put others before themselves, and the success of others before their own.  For whoever wants to be great among you, must be serve, and whoever wants to be first must be servant of all.” (Mark 10:43-44)  It is in the giving up of life that we actually find life.  So even though the world would try to convince you that becoming small is a bad thing, don’t be fooled.  Becoming small is the very best way to lead—it is the way of Jesus.

Monday, January 11, 2021

less

john 3:22-30

not greater but less

not big but small
not focal but peripheral
not primary but secondary
not foreground but background
not the bridegroom but the friend
this is what it means to follow Jesus
life is not about becoming great
but about making him great

Saturday, January 9, 2021

the way of holiness

“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.  The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that way; wicked fools will not go about on it.” (Isaiah 35:8)

Holiness is such a tricky thing.  On the one hand, we are holy because we belong to Jesus; we are given his holiness.  Yet, on the other hand, we are also told to strive to be holy—to walk in the Way of Holiness.  God’s desire for us is sanctification—that we would become all he intended us to be.  The tricky part is that gray area where we cross some kind of line and actually start trying to do it on our own, rather than through his Spirit in us.  For we cannot, no matter how hard we try, achieve holiness on our own.  We cannot simply change our behavior without God changing our desires.  It is an inside out sort of thing, not outside in.

Thus, the more we fall in love with Jesus—the one who redeemed and ransomed us, the one who gave us his holiness—the more we will desire to (and be enabled to) walk in the Way of Holiness.  The more like him we will become.  Holiness will not feel like some burden to be achieved, but a freedom to enter into; resulting in joy and gladness and delight.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

the good way

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16) 

There is a way that is both good and beautiful.  It is a way filled with life and love and peace.  It is a way filled with joy and gladness and delight.  It is a way that can only be arrived at as a result of standing and looking and asking.  And yet, it is a way we are invited to walk in.  It is a way of living our lives, rather than allowing our lives to live us.  It is a way that involves being exactly who and what we were created to be.  This good way is meant to be a reflection of the very good nature of God’s creation intent.  Thus the good of Jeremiah 6:16 is only an echo of the very good uttered in Genesis 1:31.  It is living in alignment with who he made us to be.

But how do we know if we are actually walking in this good way?  Well, that’s the easy part: our souls will be at rest.  Which means, if our souls are not at rest, then we are not walking in God’s good way.  It’s a spiritual diagnostic.  God’s desire and intent for us is a good life, walking in the good way, that reflects our good God.  It makes me wonder why we settle for so much less.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

it's time

“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  ‘The time has come.  The kingdom of God is here.  Repent and believe the good news.’” (Mark 1:14-15)  

It’s time.  Time to stop talking and start walking.  You’ve been stuck in neutral long enough.  It’s time to put feet to the things you have seen and heard and known.  It’s time to stop dreaming about the way things could or should be, and start becoming.  You know what I’m talking about.  You know those places where you have been too scared or too lazy or too comfortable to move, so you have just stayed where you are.  Well, it’s time.  Time to get up off of your butt, time to stop wallowing in your own fear or apathy or self-consumption or despair, time to leave the land of God and, in order to enter the land of God alone.  So get up, whatever that may mean, whatever it may cost.  For the cost is nothing compared to the reward—intimate union with me.  Follow me to that place.  Leave the old and broken and dysfunctional behind and come follow me.  I want to lead you deeper into my heart.  But in order to do that, you will have to leave your old life behind.  Are you willing?  Finally willing?  It’s time.

Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for giving in to my fear or my comfort or self-centeredness, and refusing to follow you all the way to where you want to lead me.  It’s time to give my entire self to you.  Give me the grace and the strength and the courage to do so.  Amen. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

the art of blowing leaves

 

So, I borrowed a leaf blower today from a dear friend.  It's one of the big backpack blowers that he used in his landscaping business.  And I set out to blow the leaves off my yard.  No problem, right?  Wrong!  As with so many other things, I thought it was going to be much easier than it turned out being.  Not so much because we have a big yard, but  my because we have a bunch of trees.  At the end of the day, I had a pile of leaves about 20 feet long and at least 5 1/2 feet high.  Little boy heaven, right?

Anyway, as the day wore on, I learned some things I wanted to pass along:

1. I can do in 2 1/2 hours the work that one ordinary man can do in 1.  Which wasn't new news to me, just a confirmation of something I've been aware of for some time now.  I guess it does, however, make me extraordinary:)

2.  You need a really good pair of earplugs to run a heavy duty leaf blower for 2-3 hours.  I'll give mine a C-.  What?  Did you say something?

3.  And this is the big one.  There is an art to EVERYTHING!  There is an art to blowing leaves, just like there is an art to cutting hair, or building a house, or doing accounting.  There is an art to waiting on tables or running a company or selling real estate.  There is an art to taking a photograph or writing a song or giving a sermon.  There is an art to caring for a patient or cleaning a house or raising a family.  In fact, everyone who wants to do a really good job at what they do is an artist.  

I'm sitting at my dining room table most Friday mornings when the guys come by to collect our trash.  I like to watch them, because they do a really good job.  In fact, you can tell that they care about what they're doing.  These guys are artists.  I am also usually sitting at my dining room table when the lady who delivers our mail comes by.  She's awesome.  Always bright and cheerful; ready with a smile and a friendly wave.  She's an artist as well.  She cares about what she does and is really good at it.

All you've got to do in order spot an artist is to try your hand at what they do sometime, then you will be convinced.  I have an appreciation now for folks that know the art of blowing leaves, and I don't think I will take that for granted again.  But the biggest thing I learned today was that I need to begin to see and appreciate the artist in everyone.  Join me!