This is a gathering of members of Heritage Christian School's Class of 1988 taken this weekend on the school's campus in Indianapolis.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
This is a gathering of members of Heritage Christian School's Class of 1988 taken this weekend on the school's campus in Indianapolis.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I have long been a fan of the way Donald Miller strings words together to say eloquently and simply what I've thought or felt. This prayer...I'm going to use it in my own praying for our nation and for this political process in which we are engaged.
I found the text (below) on his website. The video is from YouTube (as you can see).
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.
We didn't begin to build a friendship until the summer we went to Vinnitsa, Ukraine on a short term mission trip (I believe she recruited me to that trip and I, in turn, recruited Beth Gabrielson).
Over the past decade plus, I've grown to love and respect and value and admire and delight in this woman. (And in this same time, I've been recruited by her to a number of other ventures. There seems to be a pattern here.) I could ramble on for far too many words with stories of NYE parties and Canadian Cafes, a Captiva Island vacation and a Pittsburgh weekend escape, DIY decorating projects and HCS softball games, house hunts and email marathons, Einstein's mornings and brownie waffle nights. My memory bank is quite full.
However, today I want to focus on this one thing. Charlene sets an example for me (and by that example, she both inspires and encourages me to follow her example) of what it looks like to embrace & enjoy the diverse expressions of God's creativity. She loves people well -- all sorts of people. She takes delight in the variety offered in nature, in design, in foods, in music, in a multi-cultured world full of people and things that reflect the character of God himself. In that, she herself reflects the character of God.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I'm not sure if I liked it over all as much as The Rock & The Rabbi, but there were a few songs that were really, really good. I'm absolutely glad we went.
One of the events at this gathering was a live-link interview with two men serving with two of the Forum organizations in Guatemala. I had the privilege of conducting the interview.
Decades ago, two single women serving with Wycliffe went to Guatemala and served within the Q'eqchi language community, translating the Scriptures into Q'eqchi. The whole Bible has been completed and printed. In partnerships with the Southern Baptist denomination working there and other organizaitons, Bibles have been distributed through churches and is being used.
That is the good news. But, as in many language communities around the world, there is also bad news. Many Q'eqchi speakers are not literate so the printed Scritures don't have great value for them. Education and literacy strategies have increased the literacy rate to some degree, but it's not enough.
In recent years, the JESUS Film has been produced (based on Luke's Gospel) and Faith Comes By Hearing has done a dramatic audio recording of the New Testament in the Q'eqchi language.
Yesterday I interviewed Abdiel Lopez, the Latin American Coordinator for FCBH (and pastor of a large church just outside of Guatemala City) and Anibal Duarte, the National Director for the JESUS Film Project for Guatemama. They told stories of the ways this oral stragegy is impacting hundreds of Q'echi speakers -- of how churches are being planted and new brothers and sisters discipled through intentional engagement with the Word of God in the language and form they understand best.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I spent the past two days with Wycliffe's Recruitment Ministries leaders. While others were hiding from the hurricane/tropical storm/Fay, we gathered in the activity center and worked.
I loved engaging with this group of deeply committed and broadly experienced team -- they certainly made facilitating this training session a joy for me.
I was encouraged that the curriculum we have developed does work. I also took lots of notes about some details that can be tweaked to make it work better in the future. Next week I will solicit input through an electronic survey from all participants that will give me more information that I anticipate will impact the further development of this training.
This "diversity training" is being developed and rolled out to Wycliffe staff as part of a long-term strategy to "build a multi-ethnic workforce and become a biblically inclusive community."
It has been a while since I was in this kind of role for more than a short session and it was energizing. Oh, my feet are tired and my voice is a bit weary, but mostly I'm wound up in all the best ways. Funny how different things do that for different people.
As I was reveling in the goodness of this time, I remembered back to the year or so that Dave Baldwin and I facilitated the Network training at FMC together -- and my experience of coming to the realization that I love to "facilitate the ah hah moment" for people.
In case anyone is wondering...I still do love that.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
This week we recieved a Take 59 email (sent daily by request -- it is a prayer request written in such a way that a person can take 59 seconds and pray for specific needs and rejoice at specific ways that God has worked) with an update on this strategy. I share it below without further comment.
On Monday, March 31, Recruitment Ministries in Orlando, Florida mailed boxes of promotional materials to more than 1,000 universities and educational departments across the USA. The materials were intended to help spread the word about Mission:Teach, an internationally recognized recruitment tool that works to connect teachers with overseas service opportunities. Mission:Teach is a partnership formed by the Association of Christian Schools International, Finishers Project, and Wycliffe Bible Translators. The mailing proved to be highly effective. Let’s praise God!
- Praise God for 47 teachers who, over the last five months, have displayed interest in filling one of Wycliffe’s open positions around the world.
- Thank Him for more than 290 teachers who have submitted their application to the Mission:Teach website.
- Ask God to allow more teachers to follow suit, moving in their hearts and giving them a passion to become involved in Wycliffe’s work.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I can't remember the first time I saw a print of one of Georgia O'Keeffe's works, but I do remember coming around the corner at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and seeing one of her original paintings hung in one of the galleries there.
It took my breath away.
This is that image - Jimson Weed. It's lovely in this digital version, but you should see it full sized (70 x 83 1/2 inches).
This is O'Keeffe's largest and most ambitious floral work, with her signature emphasis on size and contour.
In 1936 Elizabeth Arden commissioned O'Keeffe to paint Jimson Weed for the exercise room of her New York spa.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
This interview was absolutely a highlight in a very well lighted summit. I suspect some of the power came from the energetic enthusiams of Catherine herself. But more than that, this was one of those Summit deals where thousands of us were simultaneiously introduced to a fantastic idea fueled by an extraordinary passion that is demonstrating the core values of the Kingdom of grace and restoration in ways we rarely see so tangibly and clearly. It was, therefore, nearly pure inspiration.
Yeah, I'm smitten. Smitten by creativity and committment and courage. Smitten by our Father who has expressed himself through this woman and those who have joined her in a great adventure.
She is a leader of prayer, but her prayer is a little unconventional: "Bring it on!"
One of the things I saw in her is the POWER of faith that is un-calloused enough to not tell God why following Him in to the fray is impossible. It reminded me of other young leaders who don't yet know what can't be done, so they do the impossible because they expect that God is still in that business.
I found this blogger who did a very thorough job of sharing what Rohr shared at the Summit. If you are interested...off you go (click here).
One other thing that I appreciated was a simple statement he made that ff you are a leader, your job is not to pander to your people, it is to LEAD them.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Essentially he shared that IT is the something special of God that is only possible by the SpirIT of God Himself. And if IT is present, there is life and power and spiritual movement – and deep relationships – relationships in which people are personally and corporately moving forward in Christ, building Kingdom. He says that God gives IT and takes IT…that IT is connected to the Holy Spirit…but what is IT exactly? Craig's answer: "I don’t know."
But he has these theories about IT:
- God makes IT happen
- IT is from him, by him, and for his glory
- We can’t create, reproduce, or manufacture IT
- IT is rare that one person will bring IT but commonly one person can kill it
- IT an’t be taught, but it is often taught
- IT is not a system or a model, it is not seeker-sensitive, purpose driven, emergent, or submergent (but it can be found there, or not)
- IT has an upside – wherever you see IT, there are transformed lives
- IT has a down side -- if you have IT, people will criticize, throw stones, and shoot at you
- IT HAPPENS (but often IT doesn’t)
- Bad news: You may have IT now, but you may not keep IT forever
- Good News: if you don’t have IT, you may still find IT one day
- God wants to give IT to you
With that context set, Groeschel shared that he has observed/experienced that there are certain qualities that are there when IT is present:
Ministries or Organizations that have IT have a laser FOCUS
If you want to reach people that no one is reaching, you’ll have to do things that no one is doing (and stop doing what everybody else is doing)
What are you doing that you need to stop doing?
Ministries or Organizations that have IT see opportunities where others see obstacles
You have everything you need for life and godliness – so if you don’t have what you think you need, God must be thinking that you don’t need it
We see opportunities when we feel the urgency for the work.
Craig asked, "What would you do if I told you that you needed to go out and raise $100,000 this week?" He assumed (correctly, I think) that most in the rooms would be overwhelmed with the task and would claim that we could not do it. Then he asked us to imagine that someone we love dearly and deeply had a fatal disease, but if we could raise that amount of money in one week, we could purchase a "magic pill" that would restore that person to full health. Could we do it then? There seemed to be a sense in the room that we'd figure it out.
I am still mulling this one over personally.
What is God trying to show you through your greatest limitations?
Ministries or Organizations that have IT are willing to fail
Those without IT tend to play it safe. They say that "failure is not an option." Craig said that he agrees...it is not an option, rather it is a necessity. Why? Simple. Failure is often the first step into seeing God Only in failure do we KNOW grace. (Consider Peter…walking on water, denying Christ, and in time, he preached and 3000 were saved in one day.)
Craig shared the story here of the donkey fallen in the deep well and the people who could not get it out. so they decided to be merciful and bury it. A shovel full of dirt - the donkey shook it off. Another shovel full and more shaking. And on it went. As the dirt accumulated, the donkey stepped up until he was finally out of the well. His invitation to leaders who face failure and eel like they are being buried alive by it, is to shake it off and step up. Rise again.
Just because you fail at something, does not make you a failure.
What has God called you to do that you are afraid to do? When will you do it?
Ministries or Organizations that have IT are lead by people who have IT
YOU need to have IT in order for your ministry to get IT. This is complicated by the reality that “ministry” can kill ITwhen building the kingdom becomes building the ministry
I tried to be Bill Hybles, but I’m just not Dutch; I tried to be Rick Warren, but I’m accidental; I tried to be Joel Olsteen, but I’m just not that happy.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
He began by setting a context for his teaching by reminding us that the world in which we live and serve, is diverse. He said that this soil is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial. He then suggested that the strange thing is, the more diverse we get, the more divided we become. Without hesitation, Smith contends that we need leaders who will navigate this world to bring about healing, peace, empowerment, true biblical prosperity.
His call to those of us who beleive we are gifted and called (whatever order that came into ourlives) as leasers is that must lead – be prophetic, be professional. And in order to do that well, we must be willing to be invaded by a force that will equip and empower of us to lead multi-culturally no matter where we are in the world – not as experts, not as the qualified. We need to be willing to have things within ourselves crucified…
How can we do this? How can we lead within our current context? Smith turned to the Word.
We must become a beloved leader
Efram reminded us that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the term “the beloved community” – and then stated that he is convinced that there have to be beloved leaders first. Beloved leaders who lead people into beloved communities.
How? Smith says that you become a beloved leader when you allow a force of God to come upon you, work in you, and express itself through you. Within the context of the world in which we live today (check the demographics), he stated quite strongly that if you can’t love across race and class, across urban and suburban, you can’t lead today.
We must be an abiding leader
IF we love one another, God abides in us. That is biblical. But to love one another, this is impossible for us to do. And that's good. Smith expressed his conviction that we’ve got to abide in something (someONE) beyond us. But he quicly pointed out that what we often do is use an excuse that we are not qualified, but it is not about qualification. It is about the force beyond our self that picks us up and moves us into God’s work.
(Smith wanted us to understand this as an aside: God loves to call unqualified people into his work.)
As the Church and in order to be socially innovative and creatively transformative, we must be DIVERSE. We must stop being the thing to which the world points to prove that there are still issues of RACE, CLASS and PLACE.
We must be confessing leaders
Confess truth = confessing both what I’ve got right and what I’ve got wrong. This means that effective leaders say “my bad.” (Jonah did this.) Confessing leaders says “I don’t know what to do.”
What if we could see ourselves BEYOND our cultural and racial identities.
Now a little editorial commentary and gushing. If you get a chance to hear this session on the DVD sometime...DO IT! It is more than worth the time you'll invest. For those around the Wycliffe USA world, don't be surprised if you find this session working it's way into some part of our ongoing diversity training because Smith addresses issues that are critical to our understanding.
He talked about developing and maintaining the "soil" so that healthy people can grow up out of it. Creating a church culture where people can encounter the God of the universe and grow up into Him.
I want to share some highlights of some of his points:
We must cultivate the soil with grace-giving acceptance.
The world doesn’t do grace, it does law. We must be communities of grace.
Here's a great illustration that really worked for me. John asked, "If you found a priceless Rembrandt painting covered in mud, would you treat it like mud? Of course not. Would you even consider tring to hose it off yourself? No, you’d treat it according to its true value and would take it to a master to do the cleaning."
Grace makes beauty out of messy, ugly things.
Yet the reality in our world is that church people can make it difficult to find and experience God’s grace for those who need it most. For example, the perception of the church's hatred toward gays is a huge barrier to grace for many in our culture today. Hatred toward gays smacks of LAW and PHARISEEISM. In every culture there are culturally barriers to grace. John suggest that as leaders, we must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves as we identify and tear down these barriers. He is convinced that we can removed these barriers to grace without compromising biblical truth -- and I agree.
We must cultivate the soil with authentic caring
People are longing for loving relationships – for reconciliation. Our churches need to be marked by people who walk together, pray together, and confess to one another – becoming healing agents for one another.
No longer arrogant, but authentic. Calling out the masterpiece under the mud for others.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Note: This inspiring quote is taken from Marianne Williamson's book A Return to Love. Though often quoted as part of Nelson Mandela's moving inaugural speech, "Our Deepest Fear" does not appear in the speech. Marianne Williamson herself has commented on this mistaken attribution. For Marianne's website, click here.
2. People are looking for meaning and significance in their work. That is a good thing.
21st Century Leadership will...
Align people around the vision, mission and purpose of the organization.
Empower people to step up and lead (rather than working so frenetically to get people to follow you).
Collaborate with others. Collaborate between organizations.
Understand what motivates leaders to lead? It is about their life stories – transformation experiences that become the voice of our calling. (Examples: Howard Schultz – Starbucks; Oprah Winfrey – Oprah)
My response to Gary's teaching (which you probably won't understand unless you were there or you take the time to read my LONG blog that follows):
Lord, I do not want to spend so much time in the visitor's center, placidly walking around the cul de sac, and opening jam jars.
This was an extraordinary session. I won't share all of my notes -- or all of the stories that Gary shared as he so artfully taught us about decision making and then used his life experience and ministry experience with IJM to illustrate that teaching. Powerful, powerful stuff.
I was glad that early on he defined INJUSTICE from a biblical perspective: INJUSTICE is about the abuse of power to take from other people the good things that God intended for them : life, liberty, dignity, fruit of their love and labor (Eccl. 4.1) – and it is SIN
Then he asked: What is God’s plan for bringing JUSTICE to the world? WE ARE. (Isaiah 1.17)
This is classic Summit theology -- and, I believe biblical theology -- that the local church is the hope of the world. It is another way to say what Joel Hunter frequently reminds us of at Northland: we are hear for those not yet included in the Kingdom.
So, with these thoughts and many examples, Gary set up a context that suggests clearly that our leadership must align with what God is about -- that we can lead with enthusiasm and people may follow with great energy, but if we are not leading people in the things that God is passionate about, then it's a waste.
Then he offered some basic principles about leading when it seems hopeless, scary and hard. This was the meat of his teaching.
What have we learned about leading when the task seems hopeless?
When the task before us seems hopeless, we must re-center the basis of our hope – despair comes from focusing our eyes on what we can do. Hope comes when we focus on who God is and what God can do. This is one of the reasons I love Northland's consistent focus, week after week, on worshipping God for who he is and what he has done. For me, that is a place where I am re-centered.
Gary reminded us that if God is passionate about getting it done, then he is responsible for getting it done. He reminded us of the story of when Jesus fed the 5000. He told his disciples to do this thing and then they started tallying what resources they had and what expertise and the size of the task Jesus didn’t ask the disciples for what is needed, he asked them for what they had.
Yeah, did I hear that? Jesus is not asking me to do what only HE can do, he is asking me to bring myself to him and let him do what he wants to do WITH me, through me.
What have we learned about leading when the task seems scary?
In seeking justice, we may be attacked in every way – but in exchange, we will experience God. Worth it? Yes. Besides, we must remember that Jesus did not come to make us safe; Jesus came to make us brave. (Yes, my internal iPod began to play Nicole Nordeman's song Brave when Gary made this statement.)
Gary suggested that we must consider "If my life of following Jesus doesn’t feel dangerous, I might check to see that it is Jesus I am following." Wow.
This is where Gary told a story about a trip he took with his dad and older brothers when he was 10 years old. They'd been wandering around in the very tourist-friendly area filled with paved paths and a visitor's center at Mount Rainier National Park. They came together to the place where the pavement ended and a posted sign warned would-be hikers of the dangers between themselves and the base camp and ultimately, the summit of Mt. Rainier. Gary, certain that the sign was understating the danger and lacking confidence in his ability to make it to the base camp (their declared destination), he convinced his father to let him go back and spend the afternoon at the Visitor's Center while his father and brothers moved forward. Long story short...Gary had a rather boring afternoon -- even though he worked hard to convince himself otherwise. His dad and brothers had a grand adventure.
The point he made with this story? We do not want to wake up one day to find that we have gone on the trip but we’ve missed the adventure that is following Christ.
It is Jesus himself to says to me: Follow me! Follow me BEYOND where you can go and what you can do–beyond where your competencies and strengths can take you.
What have we learned about leading when the task seems hard?
Choose not to be safe. Rather, choose to lead people into places of kingdom endeavor where you and they will NEED God. How will you know if you're there? It will show first in your PRAYER LIFE. Mother Theresa said that she couldn’t imagine doing her life’s work for more than 30 minutes without prayer. In addition, we must not let ourselves be motivated (to do or not to do) by FEAR.
Somewhere in this section, Gary talked about how safe we may feel wandering around our suburban neighborhoods -- on our cul de sacs. But really, is that the best we can do? And it was apparent to me that he was not speaking only or even primarily literally.
Choose to seek deep spiritual health. The transformational power of the steep climb is that is develops deep spiritual health in us as it requires it of us. We must not slip into the routine where our devotional life becomes a checklist. If you want to ignite passion and purpose in those whom you lead – lead them in a difficult climb.
Choose to pursue excellence. American Christians in general have moved far from this in our modern culture. We have spiritualized mediocrity. It is bad for our witness. It is bad for our soul. Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Is this just about making nice or is this also about doing our best?
Choose to seize the joy. Doug quoted Dallas Willard who said, “The first thing to disappear when spiritual health departs is laughter.” If nothing else, we should be thrown into great laughter in the fact that God is making his appeal to the world THROUGH US. We must remember the deep and eternal truth that "The JOY of the Lord is my strength!!" This is the unique power of the redeemed – truly for us, ALL IS WELL.
The power we carry within us -- the joy of the Lord -- is extraordinary. We are too often like body builders with extraordinary strength which we only use for flexing in front of mirrors. We only put it practical use to open jam jars. Again, is that the best we can do.
We are beginning to gather at the 2008 Summit site @ Discovery Church in Orlando. There is a growing group from Wycliffe who are congregating in the Cafe (rather than then main auditorium) where tables and WiFi make it almost as good as being on Bob's Lanai.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Today I got to participate in one of my favorite "perk" activities -- connecting with Wycliffe folk on furlough when they attend what we call a Wycliffe Connection event. I love these events. This particular Connection event is being held in Orlando, so I got to attend in person rather than by phone -- and that was a double bonus.
The triple bonus came when I read through the list of those who would be attending and discovered Jeff, Peg, and Maggie Jo's names. Woooo hoooooo!! So, we had lunch together and then the kids headed to the pool while the rest of us had some update and Q&A time.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Today I'm enjoying a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, carrots and celery, a really delcious apple and some lemonade. I have some mixed nuts in the box (and a Diet Coke) for later in the afternoon when I need a boost.
I don't always eat at my desk -- but sometimes it's restful for me to do so and catch up on FaceBook and such. Today my 11 am meeting went a little late and I want to take some time to mentally prepare for my 1 pm meeting -- so it was going to be a short lunch already.
Aren't you glad you asked? (Oh, wait. You didnt' ask. Apparently that doesn't stop me. Did it ever, really?)
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
Dogs. I like them for all sorts of reasons. They aren't all as admirable as one another -- some dogs are certainly superior. Cootie is one such canine (but, as usual, I digress).
I do like how these puppies are working together to rescue this stick from the lake. Did someone have to teach them how to share? Probably not.
Me, on the other hand, I have to be taught. Over and over again. I'm so grateful that God gives us second chances and skilled tutors.