January 30, 2010

My "To Be" List

My strengths as measured by the Gallup Strengths Finder Test are clustered around "ACTION!"-
Achiever, Activator, Maximizer, Positivity, Futuristic.

I am the guy with the TO DO list. My yearly GOAL list is exhausting just to look at.

I like the way I am wired. I like shooting for the stars, even if I just hit the moon.
I would rather burn out than rust out. I often say, "I have all eternity to rest".
Jesus said, "Work for the night is coming when no man shall work"
I grew up on the farm where harvest time meant we put it into overdrive.
In the land of the gospel it's always harvest time.

But God is always calling me away from my "To Do" List and calling me to His "To Be" list.

A "To Be" list is an aspiration toward character traits that reflect Jesus. It's a reminder of the kind of man I want to become. It's cleaning the "inside of the cup" so that the "outside of the cup" is pure. It's a yearning and burning for the fruit of the Holy Spirit to be clearly manifest in my life.

My "To Be" list is more important than my "To Do" list. Why?
Because if I "DO" a bunch of stuff but DON'T have LOVE...it profits me NOTHING! 1 Cor. 13
If I DO stuff but it leads to PRIDE instead of HUMILITY then I am destroying myself through my accomplishments.
If I DO stuff but it makes me so BUSY that I do the WORK of the LORD but NEGLECT the LORD of the WORK then my BUSYNESS is leading only to BARRENNESS.

Lord, I ask that today and everyday you would set in front of me my "TO BE" list so that I more earnestly pursue YOU and your MOTIVES and your CHARACTER....THEN and ONLY then can I really get after my TO DO list!

January 26, 2010

Too Close to Home

It's strange when it happens on your block, or at an intersection you cross daily, or on your bike trail, or on the airline you fly frequently. It scares you when it happens too close to home!

A man was shot on our block. A man my age was killed crossing the street at a crosswalk I use frequently.  A young father of two had a fatal bike crash on our bike trail. An Ethiopian airplane, my African airline, crashed into the sea killing 90. Too close to where I live.

Events like these move from the newspaper into your bedroom and haunt you at night. Could have been me. I was there an hour before. I was on that flight path in the same jet. I have crossed there without looking twice before. That's my turf...too close to home.

The fears can stalk you in the night...tracking you into your plans for the future...strangling the courage out of your dreams.

I can acquiesce to the lure of supposed safety and stay close to home...or I can press forward with the bravado that flows not from the stupidity of pride but from the inspiration of faith. He shall assign his angels to supervise my adventures (Psalm 91). They will not always keep me from my own foolishness but they are more than able to deliver from the lurking evil or the perpetrated accidents that could befall me.

The safest place is the center of God's will...it is the most dangerous place as well. For Holy Spirit empowered and emboldened followers of Jesus, then RISK, DANGER, HEARTBREAK lie ahead. But He who watches us will never fall asleep at His guard post (Psalm 121:3). He's got my back!

So forward into the future, into adventure, into the land of insecurity for God is my shield.
No small mindedness...no retreat to the comfort zone of complacency...instead...forward into the world, into the mission, into the epic adventure of being a "go for it" disciple of Jesus!

I refuse to be confined or relegated to the small piece of real estate where I feel most in control! No...a thousand times no....take me to the places where God must be in control because I have such little control. I refuse to live too close to home!

January 21, 2010

The 2 American Idols

A poll by the Pew Research Center reveals that "eighty-one percent of 18- to 25-year-olds…said getting rich is their generation's most important life goal." The second most important, according to the survey: being famous." Described as the "millennial" generation, 51 percent listed being famous as the second most important life goal! 

A Gallup Panel survey of 18- to 29-year-olds found that 55 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "You dream about getting rich." 

Most telling are the results of an annual survey of college freshmen by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, in which 2005 data show that "the percentage who say it is ‘essential' or ‘very important' to be ‘very well off financially' grew from 41.9% in 1967 to 74.5% in 2005." Ironically, "developing a meaningful philosophy of life" dropped in importance from 85.8% in 1967 to 45% in 2005."

A couple of personal observations: 1. Thank God I know a lot of 18-29 year olds that are just the opposite of this. They are selling out to Jesus, living for eternal rewards, giving their lives to serve others, finding a great reason to live!

2. I am not surprised by these results. The more we saturate our society with sensuality, pleasure, "reality" shows, celebrity-ism and the more we STARVE the Spirit by decreasing the value of -the church, the objective truth of the Word, the nuclear family...the more we will see these kind of results. 

May God deliver us from "the deceitfulness of riches" and the "deception of pride"...is it any wonder that God in His love warns us so strongly of their ability to tempt us from His path of "abundant and meaningful life"? 

January 17, 2010

Praxis Wisdom

After receiving my Doctoral degree I was surprised at how much I still felt like myself. I thought I would be wearing the guru hat. I imagined I would be sitting on the mount of revelation and bestowing nuggets of wisdom to any who had the smarts to come to me with their biggest life questions. Nope. Instead it was still just me trying to figure out how to follow the living God and how to help others do the same.

But one thing I did learn...I learned how much I had to learn still. My studies combined with my world travels had opened my praxis up. Who were we as American Christians to think that because we had the best seminaries in the world, we had a corner on what church practices should look like? God was calling me into the wisdom of humility (James 3) I have started learning so much from Asian believers, Latin believers and African believers. 

We confuse "our way" with the "only way" until in the wisdom of humility we begin to learn again from those who do church differently. For example, praying. In much of the world when the church prays during a service, everyone is praying aloud.  Someone is leading them but clearly not giving a speech that they are listening to. In America we listen until the speech to God is done and then politely agree by saying "amen".
There is nothing wrong with "our way" but it may be not be the "best way". I have learned a new engagement in prayer by praying with my fellow believers from other places.

Our "ethnocentrism" can blind us to the beauty of the foreign ways of doing things. May God helps us open our minds to the different forms of "practices" that our Bible believing brothers and sisters employ.


January 11, 2010

Syncing My Calendar To God's

I have a Blackberry and a Google Calendar. They are supposed to sync. Usually they do. Sometimes something in the technical heavens goes crazy and I am left with a totally absurd calendar that does not reflect reality whatsoever. I am out of sync. The calendar I am receiving and the calendar that reflects reality are misaligned.

Sometimes God's calendar and my life's calendar are out of sync. I know 2 Peter 3:8 says "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." That plays into the "chronological misalignment" but there's something more to it.

What time frame do you put on the promises of God...is it a a week, a month, a year, a decade?
For example I enthusiastically and dogmatically tell people, "You can never outgive God". But do we expect the "give back" to be in a week, a year, or in eternity. Time frames matter to trustworthiness. God keeps His promises in His own time.

Now by that I don't mean to quench any zeal for believing the promises of the Word. On the contrary...God loves surprises. This year we suffered through a huge recession and many of our church attendees lost their jobs. We went as far behind as 16,000. But God shocked us by using His people to provide a MIRACLE December to end the year 60,000 in the black! Praise His Great Name!

But last year I was believing for a miracle December and we ended in the RED by a few thousand dollars. Did God NOT keep his promise in 2008 but then keep it in 2009? NOT AT ALL!

The overall promise is true that "You can't outgive God" but we must TRUST his time frames. When we are "short" do we deny the promise? When we are "surprised positively" does it mean that we don't have to keep trusting? NO! We just must "sync" our calendars to God's. His always is the MASTER CALENDAR!

January 04, 2010

Why I Trashed My Tweeter

I jumped into Twitter and posted a few times but then I stopped. Not because of any philosphical objection but because I just kept forgetting to tweet and not caring that I had tweeted. But if I had been thinking more deeply about it like SKYE did in this article, then I probably would have written something similar. I am not an anti-twitter tweeterer, nor have I decided to forever silence my tweetering. But for now read the article and you will get some of the same thoughts I was having.

Explaining why he doesn't Twitter, author and editor Skye Jethani writes:
I know I'll get grief for this, but in the 2004 film Shall We Dance?, one character had a really insightful bit of dialogue:
We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet … I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things … all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying, "Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness."
We all want our lives to matter, and we believe they only matter if they are noticed by someone. I wonder if this desire for a witness isn't what fuels a lot of blogs, Facebook, and especially Twitter. We want someone, anyone, to take notice … to care about us … to watch us and by their attention communicate, "You matter. Your life counts."
If this is one of the hidden motivations behind Twittering, and I think it is, we're really talking about a spiritual hunger—one that I don't believe can be satisfied online. Perhaps the most significant reason I don't Twitter is because I already have a witness for my life ….
Psalm 139 says it best:
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
I believe in God's economy there is not a single thought, feeling, or moment that is lost. There is nothing that is unseen or unrecorded …. God is indeed with me and witnessing every thought and reflection. My ideas are not lost, and my life really does matter—not because someone read it, heard it, saw it, or Tweeted it, but because God is my witness.