Saturday, December 29, 2012

Exploring what it means to be weird versus normal.  Of course normal is a loaded term.  Different people have different definitions and understanding of what normal is.  For some, normal is chaos and pain, while others have a normal of peace and health.  Obviously normal can and does change as seasons of life change. 

For Jesus, normal was being misunderstood, sought out for his power, threatened, challenged, accused, approached, avoided, and everything in between.  The disciples went from a normal of fishing, tax collecting, working to walking behind, being amazed, confused, dazed, bewildered, scared, to bold, focused, and on and on... 

What used to be weird i snow normal and the old normal is now weird.  But then again, that's the way it has always been.  Jesus didn't come so life could/ would be boring.  He came to give a better life, which in many ways is a difficult life, but better nonetheless.  Normal was for the first to be last, the greatest to be least, to take up a cross daily, deny oneself, serve and love others and find ways to help those in need.  That normal is really weird, but in a good way.  So we should be weird and let that be our new normal. 

I'm not referring to odd, quirky, out of touch weird.  But the kind of weird that goes against the flow and stands out rather than just fitting in.  Hmmm... this is going to be a weird sermon series...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is never a shortage of decisions to be made in Leadership.  Being part of a life giving, relational ministry allows for those decisions to be made in connection with other leaders.  I am thankful our model isn't a top down, one man show.  It is "easier" in the short run, but more problematic in the long run. 

Most of those decisions have to do with people.  Good people wanting to do things, needing help with things, having made bad decisions.... on and on it goes.  In the midst of it, I have to keep asking God to rule in my heart and mind.  Those in authority have to be under authority.  In doing so, leaders are in a right frame to lead by following. 

Too many want to appoint themselves as leaders and take up positional authority.  They promote themselves and their ideas and their ability to teach.  They are constantly seeking an audience to listen to them so they can fill their own need.  Positional authority has great limits.  Relational authority on the other hand, shows our greatest influence isn't self promotion, but rather self-less service. 

Look around and see the relationships your leaders are developing.  Are they self-serving?  Are they protecting themselves from others having relational authority in their life?  Are those who are clamoring for leadership always the ones who have to be heard?  Leaders set the pace by serving, loving, caring, developing, sacrificing, and leading!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friends that bless Friends

Timeout!  Three weeks between posts that includes non stop parental, pastoral, and personal events.  I am catching my breath in this timeout but also giving thanks for friends that bless friends.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Celebration, entered into Advent and non stop chaos. 

By "friends that bless friends" I mean those in my life from before California that have traveled west to bless the new friends we have here.  We like to maintain all the friends we can and we have certainly been blessed by many.  So many of our friends have been rescued by God and empowered to share their hurt, pain, joy, education and life with others.  In the past couple of weeks a few of those friends have come alongside our ministry and shared hope in a profound way. 

Two weeks ago, my good friend Craig Smith came to visit.  He and I along with my fellow Pastor Mike Bivins went up on the mountain to open up our hearts and lives to each other as we shared life together.  Great food, conversation, amazing scenery in spite of the rain, openness, vulnerability, and the embrace of the Spirit of God made for an incredible time.  On Sunday morning at GCC, Craig Smith opened up his skeleton closet and shared his journey with our church.  It is a hard story.  It is a hard story to hear again because we lived it again in our hearts.  But this time, knowing the place God has brought him, my tears were grateful tears. 

His skeleton closet has death and life, sin and forgiveness, deceit and truth, division and reconciliation.  There is grief and hope, there is loss and recovery.  He freely shared about his mat and his condition, but also how God is transforming.  My new friends were incredibly blessed by my old friend.  Me too!

This past weekend two of the most dear  people to me came and joined us.  Joe and Alice Beam gave up their weekend to travel west.  I pleaded with Joe for almost a year to come and lead a marriage weekend.  Wow!  His open, thoughtful, direct, scholarly, and Spirit filled words were just what we all needed.  All weekend I have heard from individuals and couples that were filled with words of grace.  Marriages that are in trouble have some new direction and insight.  Marriages that are good are on the way to better.  People were able to understand the differences and find answers to questions they didn't know how to articulate.

Alice, in her sweet spirited way, was there as evidence of grace.  Her ability to forgive and trust and reconnect were so profound for those who haven't seen that as a possibility.  Her words of encouragement to ladies and men alike were like balm to troubled hearts.  Alice being here with her husband was such an amazing God touch.  Joe was powerful, Joe and Alice were incredibly powerful!

I haven't even talked yet of Sunday morning.  Joe's walking through Ephesians 5 and 6 and the call to Stand was point blank.  The call back to the reality we have an enemy and he has no flesh and blood was spot on.  I have heard from others how my friend blessed their lives.  I love it when friends bless friends.  I was so blessed by both sides of my friends!!!