25 01 2013

hope graphic

…the difference between life and death.

I just finished reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It is a tale of the almost unbelievable ordeals of POW Louie Zamperini. I was fascinated by the contrast of Louie who had hope, and survivd, and others who did not, and death quickly came. It was a real life example of the power of hope. I was challenged to consider how Christians speak of hope. Often it seems that our use carries connotations of wishful thinking, or wispy desires. But that is not Christian hope! No. Our hope is grounded in Christ, giving us certainty! Hope grounded in Christ truly can be the difference between life and death.



endings for beginnings – thoughts for another new year

29 12 2012

I’ve never found new year’s resolutions particularly helpful, and this is the time of year that many people are thinking through what resolutions they want to make for 2013, another new year that is only days away. This is not to say that I do not set goals…my life revolves around goals and lists of things to do 🙂 What I find challenging, and think most of us do not do well, is to intentionally think through things that we need to END, in conjunction with things that we want to BEGIN.


One reason I think people struggle with new year’s resolutions is that they are often additions to an already full life. (I am not saying this is true of every resolution, but quite a few!) So after a few weeks, or maybe even months, the new goal is squeezed out by the patterns & behaviors that are already entrenched in our lives. The last one in…the first one out! It seems that in order to have new goals (or resolutions), we need to intentionally end some old goals, patterns, or behaviors. In the language of a horticulturist:

Pruning is a process of proactive endings…
1. Healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones,
2. Sick branches that are not going to get well, and
3. Dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive.

(Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud, pg 15)

This has been a challenging thought bouncing around my mind lately. See, there are probably many good things that are part of my life, but if they are not the best things, then they are draining time and energy and resources. Wow! I hadn’t really thought about this with such intentionality before! Here is a little more food for thought:

When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on. We choose the same kind of dysfunctional person or demoralizing job again. Not learning our lessons and proactively dealing with them, we make the same business or personal mistakes over and over.

(Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud, pg 12)

A challenging thought for me as I stare down the few remaining days of 2012!

So what do you need to prune for 2013…a necessary ending for a new beginning?

Culture & Christianity

4 12 2012

Have you ever wondered how, as a Believer, you should respond to certain events or topics in society? I know I have! And I have come to realize that there is no pat answer that works across the board for all things. It is tricky. The thing that we are really wrestling with is how as a Believer, one who is called to holiness (set apart-ness), we should engage/participate/exist within culture (the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular group of people). Given that this time of year we encounter many significant cultural days…Halloween, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, Ashura, Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, and many more…this question surfaces to the forefront of our minds. I don’t have an answer that holds true across the board. BUT, I do know there are biblical principles that should shape our thoughts & behaviours, and provide a foundation for us to discerningly ENGAGE our culture…and maybe even CREATE culture.

Here is a helpful quote from missiologist Lesslie Newbigin that frames the extremes, irrelevance & syncretism, we should seek to avoid. Newbigin is addressing cross-cultural missions, but this applies just as well to engaging our local culture:

Everyone with the experience of cross-cultural mission knows that there are always two opposite dangers, the Scylla and Charybdis, between which one must steer. On the one side there is the danger that one finds no point of contact for the message as the missionary preaches it, to the people of the local culture the message appears irrelevant and meaningless. On the other side is the danger that the point of contact determines entirely the way that the message is received, and the result is syncretism. Every missionary path has to find the way between these two dangers: irrelevance and syncretism. And if one is more afraid of one danger than the other, one will certainly fall into the opposite. (Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 67.)

Consider these passages that speak to engagement without compromise…

  • 1 Corinthians 9 — Paul expresses that he has full freedom, even rights, in Christ! He becomes all things to all peoples that by all means he might save some (vs 22). Yet, Paul says he endures everything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel (vs 12).
  • Acts 17 — Paul engaged the local culture in order to have a platform for the gospel. He frequented the Athenian marketplace and reasoned with people there, including philosphers. He was quite familiar with their philosophies and beliefs.
  • John 17 — Jesus prays for his disciples, that they would be IN the world, though not OF the world.

We need discerning hearts and minds guided by the Spirit of God. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that personal conviction is not elevated to the status of biblical principle that is for all believers for all times.

hi-a-tus [hahy-ey-tuhs]

4 12 2012

what is a leader?

16 04 2010

Read this post and was struck by 2 sentences:

Thought to be creating leaders, organizations are actually creating followers and bureaucrats – people who know how to achieve excellence within an existing system. Leaders, in contrast, are people who have the moral courage to develop their own ideas and argue for them even when they aren’t popular.

Wow! This is so true! The training organizations are doing is not bad. It is highly necessary. BUT, this is not developing leaders.

Leaders are scary. They push the envelope of the established…they ask tough questions…they forge into the undiscovered lands of their organization.

Leaders are not everyone…everyone is not a leader

Christian behavior matters??

9 02 2010

We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.
— Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian

The Christian ethic is always the first line of defense, whether in the second century or the twenty-first.
— D. Jeffrey Bingham, Pocket History of the Church

old thoughts

4 02 2010
Found these thoughts from a while back…

When sin arises through controversy and presents a front to thwart the minsitry of a believer, we can no longer argue based on reasonableness and logic.

…Sin is not reasonable…
…it does not follow logic…
…it bobs and weaves…
…it sneaks…
…it hides…
… in order to achieve its purpose…
…the destruction of the ministry of the believer!

Remember the situation with Jonathan Edwards? There were some in his church who wanted to be rid of him…who slandered him…who continued to change their methods of “indictment” in order to claim victory. Perhaps we therefore do not fight this…focus instead on if we are walking with Christ and being obedient to the LIFESTYLE set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ.