Seven Deadly Combos

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I have no idea where I received this graphic, but I came across it the other day and it made me think about the implications of sin. Everyday we are faced with sin from all sides and it can hurt us more than we know. This graphic reminds me to stay diligent in holiness. Even though whoever drew this was trying to be amusing, there is much to say about letting sin creep into our lives at all angles.

 

 

 

As a spiritual leader, we should walk through this list and “see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:24). Daily repentence requires self examination. Maybe that is why I kept this. Because it reminds me of that.

Simply Saying Thanks

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This morning I feel an incredible amount of thankfulness to God. It is so easy in this day an age for a person to line up their own accomplishments and bask in the self-reliance that it takes to stay alive, healthy, wealthy and wise. I have done and seen a lot in my lifetime, but today I am compel to recognize the One who has gone before me, and will be there behind me.

I’m thankful for so many things that are absolutely out of my control:

  • My physical health
  • My family
  • My friendships with people who care about me undeservingly
  • My church and its mission
  • My community and its values
  • My future hope

None of these were created or put in motion by me. In fact they don’t have anything to do with who I am. Truthfully, I do more to deconstruct these things in my life than to build them up. So, I’m thankful. And, not like birthday gift thankful. You know, like when you get a gift for your birthday–you know that you could have bought it yourself.

Instead I am Picasso painting thankful. By this I mean that I have been been things that I could never create on my own–like a Picasso painting. God has created a beautiful, meaningful work of art to me, and given it to me undeservingly.

Thank you God!

The Ol’ Light Pole

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Summer Pictures 009Seth Grows Up 004Back to School 129Back to School 141IMG_0869IMG_1083.JPGIMG_1218IMG_1466IMG_1541IMG_0098IMG_1749IMG_1041IMG_0096IMG_1542We’ve been sending our kids to school for too many years it seems. We, like most parents, have taken pictures of them as they walk/drive away from our loving care into the hands of strangers.  I thought it would be fun if I posted their shots over the years.

Something of a spiritual note, though, for you to think about. At first we would just take their pictures out on the steps, but as you see they soon posed every year next to the light pole in our front yard. They have come to expect to get their pictures taken by it every year. The symbolic idea of my kids walking to the light before their first day of school delights me. We have chosen to send our kids to public school so they would share the light of Christ with the world. We understand that they are at risk…but they are not ours. They our God’s. We want them to be light pole’s of God’s light to a dark world. Every year we have be subliminally and ceremonially imparting this to them.

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14IMG_0238

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Making the Most of Prayer

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Recently I hosted a prayer meeting. Yup. A good old fashioned, get a group together, meet in the basement, prayer meeting. It was something I have wanted to do for quite some time. With all that is going on in families, our community and the nation, I felt a calling to join others in prayer. Which is exactly what I did. I gathered men like me together to pray. Simple Simon met a pie man.

What is interesting is bringing together the prayer traditions of others into one room. I am sure there were men there that have never been to a prayer meeting. I am also sure there were guys there that I would call Prayer Warriors! As we fille the basement of a home, I thought, “maybe these guys aren’t used to joining others for prayer—especially for an hour.”

So, I thought I would give a couple of tips to making your next prayer gathering a success.

  1. Have a central purpose. Are you there to pray for the nations? Your kids? Your school disctrict? Make sure you have a clear purpose your your prayer.
  2. Have a prayer sheet. Not everyone thinks on their feet well. Make sure you guide them with ideas, requests and concepts for them to bring before God.
  3. Use scripture. Have God’s words throughout the sheet. They can read it while others pray, or pray through it.
  4. Have a soundtrack. I know this one sounds weird, but when you ask people to get together to prayer for 60-120 minutes, they will think it is an impossible task. Most people prayer 5 minutes maximum a day. You are asking them to increase their prayer life by 1000%. A soundtrack does a couple of things. First it fills the silence of people not praying. Secondly it gives musical transitions to different prayer topics. Third, it allows them to focus on the words of the prayers as they filter out the music. Lastly, it creates an atmosphere. I use all different types of music, but here are a few suggestions (Explosions in the Sky, Braveheart Soundtrack, Power of One Soundtrack, Gregorian Monk Chants)
  5. Start and end on time. If you want to continue to have prayer meetings you need to make sure people arrive when they are supposed to, and you end when you are are supposed to. If you say something is going to be an hour, but it lasts three, the next time you ask people to come they will be thinking, “I don’t think I have time”. But if you ask people to pray with you for an hour, and it lasts an then you can keep asking people, “Come pray an hour with me this week!”—and mean it.

If you use these suggestions I know that you will have a successful prayer meeting, and that the people with be impacted by an unusual night in their usual life.

Drive

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Ask any parent of a teenager and they will tell you that it is an exciting day when your kid is able to drive.  I have a 17 year old who has been driving for a while now. I remember giving Grace her own set of keys when she turned 16. It was defining moment for us all. My 14 year old son just received his driving permit and is now feeling the thrill of the open road. Soon, like his sister, he will be getting his own car complete with its own set of keys.

Something happens when we are released to drive. I felt it, and I see it in my kids, too.

  • There is a sense of experience. You get to travel roads that you choose to go down. You get to see new things.
  • Relationships expand. You no longer have to just be connected to people in your neighborhood. Now you can know people across town, or in different towns
  • Care develops. You see the car you are driving as “yours” and you begin to make sure that it is cared for and maintained.
  • Maturity happens. A person develops a heightened sense of maturity knowing the responsibility of what they are doing.

I’ve noticed in leading a church the last eight years that the same thing happens when a person volunteers at a church. When they are given the “keys” to drive their church, they experience everything a new teen driver experiences. Church cannot run well without people who want the keys to drive. They need people who want to go to new places, meet new people and maintain the mission of the church.

Watching a teenager sit in the passenger seat while someone else drives is frustrating for them. Especially if they are able to drive, but haven’t done what is necessary to get their license. They don’t like being the passenger. We shouldn’t like bing passengers at our church, either. We should want the keys! If you aren’t actively serving in your church, you should get out of the passenger seat and ask for the keys to drive. You will find that a whole new world of opportunity awaits you.

Getting Dewormed

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“Sometimes the worms are a blessing.”  — Bishop T.D. Jakes

In an interview with Bill Hybels for the Global Leadership Summit Bishop Jakes was asked about how he avoids burning out with all the plates that he has spinning. Jakes is a pastor, business owner, writer, movie producer, and soon-to-be television talk show host. Since most people already know that a person cannot have effective influence in all those areas, Hybels asked Jakes how he manages his life. His answer intrigued me.

T.D. Jakes admitted that it was impossible for him to balance all of those things, but that he believed that the more God gives you to lead the more important it is to trust him on a daily basis. He talked about the Israelite’s needs being met by God through daily bread (manna) given. Every day God gave them what they needed to survive and thrive. When they tried to take more, God would use worms to eat the bread away. Jakes suggested that the worms were actually a blessing. They helped the Israelites understand that God gives us what we need. No more. No less.

This is an important lesson to any leader.  Receiving our daily bread from God helps us understand that we can’t have more than he wants us to. Jakes recognized in his own life that there were things that the worms needed to eat away. Things that were unnecessary, or should be done by others. If a leader doesn’t recognize the importance of daily “nourishment” the worms will come.

The worms eat at several things. First, our relationships. They deteriorate important interpersonal connections. Secondly, they eat at our health. We are stressed and high strung. Third, they devour our passion. When we are too concerned with tomorrow’s meal, we don’t have a desire for the one that is in front of us.

What do the worms need to eat away from you? What areas of your life are you trying to be self sufficient in?

Global Leadership Summit 2016

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For the last two days I have been at the Global Leadership Summit sponsored by the Willow Creek Association. The venue I attended was at Eagle Brook Church, Lino Lakes campus. The video simulcast from Willow Creek’s Chicago campus connected churches and organizations all over the world. I had been told about this conference several times by others over the years, but had never made the effort to attend.  The last two days showed me that I was in error to wait.

This Global Leadership Summit had some of the most impactful leaders of our time addressing issues that all leaders face in whatever organization they operate.  Even though my context is a church, I was compelled to think of others in my church who work in other types of organizations. The messages and challenges that were communicated over the last two days were some of the best I had ever heard. Although I know I will be writing about these over the next few weeks and months, I thought I would give just three initial takeaways from this compelling conference.

First, I want to be a strong leader. Over the past few years I had capitulated that life and ministry were just going to happen TO me. I had experienced many heartbreaks and challenges that had me believing that I needed to be a reactive leader. This conference has fueled in me a desire to be a proactive leader. I want to be strengthened and sharpened. It was said over and over by multiple speakers that leadership is hard. Bill Hybels started off by saying that in order to be a strong leader we needed to have humility. A humble leader knows that they don’t know everything and will need help. John C. Maxwell said that “everything worth getting is uphill.” If I want to be a person of greater leadership I need to know from the start that it is going to be hard.

Secondly, you can only effectively lead people when you love them. I was taught early from a from supervisor of mine, John Erwin, that “rules without relationship equals rebellion.” Leaders with followers who rebel, is no leader at all.  But I want to do more than just fight rebellions. I want to inspire people. The way in which that takes place is caring for those you lead. John C. Maxwell deeply challenged my heart when he shared that leadership is “adding value to people’s lives.”  This conference reinvigorated my love for people.

Lastly, I need to embrace questions. Over and over, each speaker asked deeply engaging questions, that I found myself writing down but afraid to answer. I don’t want to answer them because 1) I don’t like the answer or 2) I actually don’t know and that brings out an insecurity that I don’t want to admit.  Leaders ask questions. They get to the bottom of things. They dig and keep digging. This conference has inspired me to ask questions of myself and prepared me to ask questions of others.

My plan is to attend again…and again. I believe the Global Leadership Summit is God-given to me in this phase of ministry, life and interpersonal relationships. I look forward to processing this information more and more over the coming days.

 

12:34PM

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So, you know that I watch a lot of movies.  Which, I will admit shapes my worldview more than I would like. What I am about to tell you, I have never really talked about with anyone else. I personally think I am letting my movie watching (Matrix, Limitless, Inception) get the best of me. So, here is it…

I see the time 12:34PM about 5-6 times every week. Either I’ll be checking my watch (yes I still wear one), checking my cell phone, looking at my computer, observing a clock, or whatever. I seem to have this internal clock inside of my head that desires to know what time it is exactly at 12:34PM. And, it’s at exactly 12:34PM.

Karla didn’t believe me. So, I starting taking pictures of my car clock, snapping screen shots of my phone and laptop just to try to show her. She still doesn’t make much of it. I have a friend who sets his alarm everyday to 10:02 based on the Luke 10:2 passage about needing people to share Christ with the world to be raised up. He prays after the alarm every day for “workers”.  What I am experiencing is different. There is some sort of internal alarm going off inside of my head that causes me to look at my watch, car clock, cell phone, laptop or wall clock at exactly 12:34PM 5 to 6 times a week.

I’m not wigging out about aliens, government radio waves or anything bizarre. I don’t wear aluminum foil around my head or have the Mel Gibson Conspiracy Theory starter pack in my basement. But, this is very intriguing to me. I am only writing it down because maybe someone else might experience something like it and could make me feel a little less X-files(ish).

I find it also interesting that the numbers are 1-2-3-4. Like counting. Is my brain telling me that something is elementary? Or that I need to relax and count to 4? Or am I starting the tempo to one of my favorite songs in my head? It’s just so interesting.

 

 

Bedtime Poem

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When the kids were growing up, I used to recite this bedtime poem to them as a prayer. I have no idea where I picked up, but I’m sure I didn’t write it.

The kids would lay down on their beds and I would pray this poem over them and lay my hand over the part of them I was praying for. The kids would lay there stiff as a board until I was done. I miss those times, but I feel that passing this on to others will bring me a different type of joy.

The Bedtime Prayer Poem

God,
May Grace/Seth have your wisdom in their MIND,
Their EYES see your glory,
Their EARS hear your voice,
Their LIPS sing your praise,
Their HEARTS be your home,
Their HANDS do your work,
Their FEET take them wherever you lead, and
Their KNEES bow only to you.
Amen

I hope you enjoy your time with your kids as you pray this over them. My hope is that it will be the prayer my kids pray over their kids. I know I will be!

Piddlin’ Poem

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One of the reasons I love poetry has got to be because of my grandpa, Charles Horn. He loved reading and reciting poems. He memorized quite a few throughout his life.  I enjoyed listening him recite in cadence and rhythm. He would get lost in them, it seems.

As a treat for you, I am sharing one of my grandpa’s favorite poems. I remember him reading this and stopping to laugh and dry his eyes from the humor he found in it. This remarkable little rhyme was published in a small volume entitled Bawdy Ballads and Lusty Lyrics: A Curious Collection of Somewhat Salty Classics Seldom Sung in Sunday Schools, edited by John Henry Johnson, published by Maxwell Droke, Indianapolis, 1935.

The Romance of Rex
[A Tale of a Pedigreed Piddlin’ Pup in Ten Piddles and a Puddle]
 
Piddle No. 1
A farmer’s dog came into town,
His Christian name was Rex,
A noble pedigree had he
Unusual was his text.
And as he trotted down the street
T’was beautiful to see
His work on every corner —
His work on every tree.
 
Piddle No. 2
He watered every gateway too,
And never missed a post
For piddling was his specialty
And piddling was his boast.
The City Curs looked on amazed
With deep and jealous rage
To see a simple country dog
The piddler of the age.
 
Piddle No. 3
Then all the dogs from everywhere
Were summoned with a yell,
To sniff the country stranger o’er
And judge him by the smell.
Some thought that he a king might be
Beneath his tail a rose,
So every dog drew near to him
And sniffed it up his nose.
 
Piddle No. 4
They smelled him over one by one
They smelled him two by two
And noble Rex, in high disdain,
Stood still till they were thru.
Then just to show the whole shebang
He didn’t give a dam
He trotted in a grocery store
And piddled on a ham.
 
Piddle No. 5
He piddled in a mackerel keg —
He piddled on the floor,
And when the grocer kicked him out
He piddled through the door.
Behind him all the city dogs
Lined up with instinct true
To start a piddling carnival
And see the stranger through.
 
Piddle No. 6
They showed him every piddling post
The had in all the town,
And started in with many a wink
To pee the stranger down.
They sent for champion piddlers
Who were always on the go,
Who sometimes did a piddling stunt
Or gave a piddle show.
 
Piddle No. 7
They sprung these on him suddenly
When midway in the town;
Rex only smiled and polished off
The ablest, white or brown.
For Rex was with them every trick
With vigor and with vim
A thousand piddles more or less
Were all the same to him.
 
Piddle No. 8
So he was wetting merrily
With hind leg kicking high,
When most were hoisting legs in bluff
And piddling mighty dry,
On and on, Rex sought new grounds
By piles and scraps and rust;
Till every city dog went dry
And piddled only dust.
 
Piddle No. 9
But on and on went noble Rex
As wet as any rill,
And all the champion city pups
Were pee’d to a standstill.
The Rex did free-hand piddling
With fancy flirts and flits
Like “double dip” and gimlet twist”
And all those latest hits.
 
Piddle No. 10
And all the time this country dog
Did never wink or grin,
But piddled blithely out of town
As he had piddled in.
 
The Puddle
The city dogs conventions held
To ask “What did defeat us?”
But no one ever put them wise
That Rex had diabetes.