Thursday, April 24, 2014

Preachin' on Sunday

This Sunday, I am preaching for the first time in six months - just about the longest stint I have ever gone between sermons in my life.

('People have no idea how good they have had it for six months' - My Desk)

It's a great honor to be with the people of The Way/Camino Church, a church our family has come to love in the last four months, after admiring, respecting, and working with their pastor, Rusty Price, for nearly a decade.

You should like the church's Facebook page here!

I have simply never known a church that serves its community better. There are two campuses and one is wholly devoted to serving people as the Camino Community Center, with a food pantry, free clinic, counseling center, and much more. The campus where worship takes place on Sundays is positioned off of the exit which leads to the largest mall in the area (Concord Mills) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway - you could not find a better, more promising location.

I have never known a church with a brighter future or with more meaningful momentum.

I'm teaching on Ephesians 2:10:

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which  God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them".

If you are a regular reader of this blog you won't be surprised to know that the themes of the teaching will be tied to Intentional Difference.

ID is deeply rooted in faith - more deeply than most people realize. We wrote the book for a secular audience, but its ideas find their home in the Bible.

Here's the Big Idea:

You were made different to make a difference.

I am very excited to have the chance to talk about ID in the context of the Bible and in a phenomenal local church - I believe, deep-down, that its message is life-changing.

If you live in the CLT area, it would be fun to see you at 10 (English) or 12 noon (Spanish).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Teaching: A Leader's Reading

The first chunk of Daniel 9 is fascinating in what it implies, rather than what it says.

It features Daniel as a young man coming to grips with his faith, current events, and what the times demanded of him.

Easily lost in a quick reading is repeated references to what Daniel found in 'the books' - words from God that had guided his people for years.

Daniel went on to become one of the most courageous, insightful, and wise leaders in the history of Israel - really, in the history of any nation.

And a lot of that had to do with the fact that he was an avid reader. And every great leader will be too.

Where can we look to learn?

1. God's word - what we have today as the Bible. Learning leaders make it a lifelong quest to study, mark, learn, inwardly digest, and apply the Bible to their lives.

2. People. Attach yourself (in a non-creepy way!) to wise, older men and women who have learned a lot by living well, making mistakes, and bouncing back. People aren't books, but they live stories.

3. Biographies. I'm never without one going on my Kindle or on the coffee table in my library. Can't overestimate the power of reading about a life well or poorly lived.

Read Eric Metaxas on Bonhoeffer, Timothy Dudley-Smith on John Stott, Martin Gilbert on Winston Churchill, Robert Caro on Robert Moses (an utterly brilliant book which is the best illustration of the corruption of power you will ever read), David McCullough on Harry Truman, and Peter Drucker on himself (his Adventures of a Bystander, which is a book I never get tired of, ever).

4. Talk to others about what you are reading. I have friends who enjoy theology as I do, mysteries as I do, history and biography as I do. To find someone who loves the same kinds of books you do and is willing to talk about them is to make a friend!

How about you? What are you reading these days?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Teaching: Waiting For God

Isaiah gets right to the point in verse one of chapter 64:

"Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!"

Ever felt like that?

"God, I need you. There's no mistake. This isn't a hangnail or a sinus headache or a bad day. I need you. I need you so bad and I need you now. I need you to rip the veil that separates you from us and get here now. I need you. Can you please hurry?"

And then Isaiah goes on to paint a picture of this heaven-rending, action-oriented, right-now God.

Mountains quake and fire catches and water boils and nations tremble and mountains quake again.

And sometimes God shows up that way.

But lots of times he doesn't.

Maybe you are in a place where you are looking for a heaven-rending God right now. Or three weeks ago.

You are tired of waiting, of things not changing, of pain enduring and circumstances lingering.

You're tempted to get impatient, bitter, to take matters in your own hands.

I'm guessing Isaiah was as well. After all, he's calling on mountains to quake and tremble and God to act like a MMA athlete.

And then he catches himself. Verse four:

"From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him."

There is a causal relationship here between our waiting and God's acting.

If you are like me, you hate to wait.

I am awful at waiting. In line, in traffic, for news, for kids, in pain and uncertainty.

I wish I were better - had more fortitude and patience and trust and faith. But I don't.

But here it is - God acts for those who wait for him.

If you are in a place where you want God to rend the heavens, that is OK. You're in good company. Isaiah and all that.

But remember that he has not forgotten you - that he never could forget you - that to forget you would be foreign to everything he is.

And that, in time, he will act. And because he is good, so will be his actions.

No eye, no ear, no one has ever seen anything like it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Impossible Choices

The world is marking the 20th anniversary of the unthinkable Rwandan genocide these days.

In all of the tales of horror surrounding those dark days, there were tales of hope and heroism.

One was the story of a young man who was one of only twelve people pulled out alive after being buried under a pile of 3,000 corpses in the town of Murambi.

Not too long ago, his terror began anew when those who had committed the massacre were released from prison.

One of the nation's leaders asked him "How do you manage?"

His reply: "I could not do it unless I was convinced that these impossible choices are leading us somewhere".

The impossible choices he had in mind were the efforts in Rwanda to acknowledge the pain of the past, bring reconciliation into the present, and to insure a future free of such horror.

But he had made impossible choices along the way himself, on a personal level.

Choices to survive, to live, to forgive.

My guess is that you may be facing your own impossible choices at this moment.

To forgive.

To trust again.

To step away.

To lean in.

To risk.

To love.

To get back off the mat one more time and keep fighting.

Simply to go on.

A great life is rooted in and flows from such impossible choices. They are only impossible in the moment.

In retrospect, they are the choices that lead you somewhere.

They lead you to greatness.